Every week on Rays Colored Glasses I will be doing an update on Tampa Bay’s two most famous free agents–Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. We’re through one week already and the report, as it is about the Rays, is not a good one.
The Rays hitting have been so bad it’s almost comical, in a very morbid kind of way. Their batting average as a team, through Thursday, was just .145 and they have scored just eight runs. That is almost half as much as any other team in baseball. Manny and J.D.’s start have had a lot to do with that.
Ramirez does have an RBI, but is hitting .059 and was starting to hear booing from the Tampa Bay faithful on Tuesday night. That was a game in which he went 0-4 with three strikeouts. He’s taking the criticism in stride, but was held out of the game on Wednesday, even though he had had success in the past against Angel starter Dan Haren. On Thursday, he had to attend to a “family matter” and so was not in Chicago to see the Rays lose 5-1 to the White Sox. He should be back for Friday night’s game.
Johnny Damon, if you can believe it is hitting worse than Manny is, with just an .053 average with seven strikeouts, splitting time between left field and DH. This whole funk is by no means because of Manny and Damon. It is a team-wide epidemic outside of maybe B.J. Upton, Ben Zobrist and Sam Fuld. Damon did provide some encouragement to the team after the game on Thursday did not lay blame on any one player, saying “We just talked among ourselves to make sure to stay together.” Hopefully, as a team, the Rays will get out of this funk.
It is still very early in the season, but Joe Maddon has started looking at different options. He has given Fuld, acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade, a chance and he has run with it (literally–he had three steals on Thursday). He most likely is not the long term solution, but Rays fans have to love his hustle. It has been a bad start, but I don’t believe Manny and Damon are finished as players. However, they have to start hitting to fill the void that Evan Longoria’s injury created.