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By JOE SMITH, Times Staff Writer
Published March 4, 2008
LAKELAND - There may have been only one person more eager than manager Joe Maddon for RHP Matt Garza's debut as a Ray on Monday.
"He was itching to go," Maddon said.
Garza threw a lot of strikes against Detroit's potent lineup during Tampa Bay's 10-9 win, but it was his one walk in the first that hurt him the most. After two straight outs, OF Gary Sheffield got a free pass and scored after back-to-back singles. Garza said he wanted "badly" to get through the second but was pulled because of a strict pitch count 48, having given up four hits and two earned runs.
"Stuff-wise he was fine," Maddon said. "He just didn't have the command he was looking for."
Although Garza, who arrived from the Twins in the Delmon Young trade, has been penciled in as the No.3 starter behind LHP Scott Kazmir and RHP James Shields, the 24-year-old isn't taking anything for granted.
"I'm still going out there competing," Garza said. "There's a lot of talented guys in the locker room, some guys that want the job just like I wanted it in Minnesota. It's hard to get on top, but it's even harder to stay on top."
Garza wasn't the only Ray to struggle with command, with seven pitchers combining for nine walks, though Tampa Bay still improved to 4-0, its best ever spring start. C Hector Gimenez helped end the four-hour game with a full-count RBI double to center in the ninth, with RHP Andy Sonnanstine picking up the save.
BACK ON TRACK: C Dioner Navarro made his first start behind the plate, catching four innings while going 1-for-3 with a single. Maddon had given Navarro a few extra days to get his arm game-ready after Navarro arrived late from Venezuela, where his mother had suffered a brain aneurysm. Maddon said Navarro looked good, singling out his hustle to beat out a throw on the infield hit.
NO DELMON SIGHTING: Given the exchange of words last month, it would have been interesting to see any interaction between Rays LF Carl Crawford and ex-Rays RF Delmon Young today when the Rays and Twins meet at St. Petersburg's Progress Energy Park. But according to the travel roster posted in the Twins clubhouse Monday, Young is not going to make the trip from Fort Myers. This is the only time the Twins are scheduled to play in St. Petersburg during the spring, and their only regular-season visit isn't until late September. Ex-Ray Brendan Harris is also not scheduled to make the trip, though former Rays minor-leaguer Jason Pridie is.
MISCELLANY: Maddon said Kazmir is still in "stage two" in his recovery from a left elbow sprain, but the ace could be outside playing catch in the next few days. Top pick David Price will get in his first game Wednesday or Saturday. ... Rocco Baldelli is scheduled to be the DH today. ... Closer Troy Percival will throw a bullpen session today and pitch an inning Thursday in Clearwater vs. the Phillies. ... Jonny Gomes went 2-for-3 with a solo homer Monday and is batting .423. ... INF Andy Cannizaro, who has 11 career homers in seven pro seasons, hit a two-run blast Monday.Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Last modified March 3, 2008, 23:50:14]