Spring training is finally underway–but something felt a little off. The Rays had played a game, losing 4-2 to the Baltimore Orioles, but we had yet to see their Opening Day starter take the mound. That will be rectified today. David Price takes the mound as he stays in line to take the ball for Game 1 of the regular season, and he is joined by an interesting Rays lineup.
The most exciting thing is obviously Price’s debut, but this lineup has quite a few interesting things going on. Catching Price will be Ryan Hanigan in Rays spring debut, and it will be interesting to see how they work together. Rays starting pitchers have been raving about Hanigan since Day 1, and now let’s see how he does. In other news, Sean Rodriguez returns to his most comfortable position, second base, after starting there just once in all of 2013. And in terms of the rest of the lineup, we will get to see quite a few players competing for roles.
The entire Rays infield in this game are all players hoping to make the roster. Rodriguez seems like a favorite, but Logan Forsythe hopes to show enough at the plate that the Rays will overlook his minor league option while Jayson Nix hopes to follow up his hit in the first game with more strong results in Game 2. Belnome faces the longest odds, but the lefty-swinger hopes to get the Rays’ attention and show that his strong 2013 at Triple-A demonstrated a real breakthrough.
In the outfield, meanwhile, we will see Brandon Guyer in left field and Kevin Kiermaier in center. Guyer starts his quest to prove he is healthy, and if he does, he looks like the favorite for the Rays’ fourth outfielder role. Kiermaier is also hoping for a spot, but he has a chip on his shoulder now after losing a ball in the sun in the first game that went for a double. Kiermaier hopes to redeem himself in this contest and push Guyer until the last possible moment.
Appearing after Price in this game will be Mark Lowe, Jake McGee, Brad Boxberger, Matt Andriese, Mike Montgomery, Enny Romero, Jeff Beliveau, and Alex Colome. The Rays are showing Lowe some respect in lining him up to pitch before McGee, but now he has to do something with it and show that he is worth a roster spot. We know that McGee is working on a curveball and changeup, and hopefully this game can help him progress with those pitches. Boxberger and Andriese were two of the key acquisitions in the Alex Torres trade, and now they will get the chance to show the Rays what they can do. Then we will see Montgomery and Romero, the former a failed top prospect hoping to finally see big league time and the latter featuring some of the best stuff in the entire system. After that comes Jeff Beliveau, the lefty reliever hoping to surpass his one big league game in 2013 by a wide margin. Then the game will finish with Colome giving us a tease of his possible future role by closing things out. Even after his second straight injury-riddled season, Colome’s potential remains tremendous. The latter five pitchers are all long-shots to make the team, but we will get to see some talented pitchers who could make the Rays’ roster at some point this year.
After Price, Hanigan, and Myers, this game does not quite feature the star power, but seeing several players competing for roles and quite a few top prospects will make it worth following. WDAE will carry the game, so be sure to listen in.