Even though he has pitched virtually nonstop since the beginning of the 2012 season, Fernando Rodney is ready for Opening Day. After his record breaking 2012 season, he pitched in the Dominican Winter League, the in the World Baseball Classic. Now, he is slated to pitch an inning in Wednesday’s game and another on Saturday, and that will be all before the season begins. After throwing a bullpen session on Sunday, he said that he felt great, and is looking forward for the season to start. “I’m ready to go,” said Rodney.
After literally a full calender year of being one of the more dominant pitchers in baseball, Rodney has shown no signs of slowing down. He set WBC records for appearances (8) and saves (7), and has allowed only one hit and a walk in his three innings during Spring Training. Even though it is highly unlikely that the replicates his amazing performance last season, Rodney appears to be setting up for another solid season closing games for the Rays.
There was a heartwarming reunion on Saturday at Port Charlotte. Back on June 12, 2012, Connor Bruseski, then a 7 year old boy who had been diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in 2011 and was in the midst of undergoing chemotherapy, had been invited to Tropicana Field with his family. There, he got to meet many Rays players, including Evan Longoria and Joe Maddon. Connor gave Longoria a ‘Friends of Connor’ bracelet, which he wore for the remainder of 2012. On Saturday, the Bruseski family found themselves on the field watching batting practice when Longoria heard that they were there. Still wearing the bracelet, he walked over to the family, where he found out that Connor is now sporting a full head of hair. The best of luck to Connor and the Bruseski family as he continues his battle, and we all look forward to 2014 when he finishes chemotherapy.
Four more players were reassigned to the Rays minor league camp yesterday, as Chris Gimenez, Shelley Duncan, Jason Bourgeois and Mike Fontenot were sent to Durham. Despite performing better during the preseason, Gimenez had options remaining, unlike Jose Lobaton, so he could be sent down without the Rays possibly losing him to an other club. Yet, given Gimenez’ versatility, it is possible that he could be one of the first players recalled should injuries strike on the offensive side of the ball.
Finally, former Ray Scott Kazmir took another step forward in his comeback, as he was named the Cleveland Indians‘ fifth starter. Even though he had not appeared in the majors since 2011, and had not really been a factor since 2009, he had been impressive during his time in the Winter Leagues, earning an opportunity with Cleveland. Once in camp, he continued to pitch well, going 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA and 13 strikeouts. Naturally, Kazmir gets his first start of the season on April 6th – against the Rays. It is certainly great to see how his continued perseverance has paid off, and hopefully he can get his career back on track.