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Youngster aims to gain control in starting bid
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he won't be overly analytical when watching his pitchers during his team's first intrasquad game today, but Jason Hammel knows the opportunity that exists in the one inning he will pitch.
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published February 27, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - Rays manager Joe Maddon said he won't be overly analytical when watching his pitchers during his team's first intrasquad game today, but Jason Hammel knows the opportunity that exists in the one inning he will pitch.
Hammel, 0-6 with a 7.77 ERA last season, walked at least three batters in five of his nine starts. So as the 24-year-old competes for the fifth spot in the Rays rotation, he is focused on having better location.
"Every inning counts, so you have to make do with what you've got and make a good impression," Hammel said. "You've got to make it count. The way you take care of that is just throw strikes. First-pitch strikes are important. It's early in the season, so you can't expect it all to be there, but that's obviously what you're looking for."
Maddon said he will be paying special attention to that during the intrasquad games today and Wednesday.
"One of the things we did last year was we walked too many people," he said. "So I'm going to be looking for strike throwing and a mound presence about them, somebody who really exudes confidence, somebody who the defense is into playing behind, but primarily if I had to narrow it down to one thing it would be strike throwing."
RAIN DELAY: Rain forced the Rays to cancel live batting practice and rearrange their practice schedule Monday. The team took practice indoors, working on baserunning drills and hitting in the batting cage. Once the weather cleared, pitchers scheduled to throw had their bullpen sessions, and position players practiced cutoffs.
"We actually got quite a lot done in spite of the rain," Maddon said. "It's nice to get a little break in the routine every once in a while, and then we're transitioning into the games today, so I thought that the timing couldn't have been more perfect."
PITCHERS ANNOUNCED: Maddon announced the pitchers for the team's intrasquad games today and Wednesday at the Naimoli Complex.
Today's pitchers will be Gary Glover, Scott Doh- mann, Ruddy Lugo, J.P. Howell, Juan Salas, Chris Seddon and Andy Sonnanstine on one team vs. Shawn Camp, Tim Corcoran, Edwin Jackson, Hammel, Steve Andrade, Tony Peguero and Mitch Talbot.
Each will pitch one inning.
Wednesday's game, which will be six innings and start at 9:30, will have Scott Kazmir, Al Reyes, Seth McClung, Jon Switzer, Brian Stokes and Jeff Ridgway on one team and Dan Miceli, Jae Seo, Chad Orvella, James Shields, Jae Kuk Ryu and Jeff Niemann on the other.
Maddon also announced that Shields will start the exhibition opener Friday against the Yankees, likely pitching one inning. Also slated to pitch that day are Jackson, Howell, Corcoran, Camp, Lugo, Glover and Salas. Kazmir will start Saturday against the Blue Jays in Dunedin. A.J. Burnett will pitch for Toronto.
ODDS AND ENDS: B.J. Upton took flyballs in the outfield for 15 minutes before practice Monday, getting accustomed to his super-utility role. ... Left-hander Casey Fossum threw a 44-pitch bullpen session, the most since shoulder surgery. The next step would be throwing live batting practice.