Rays Notes: A Case of Mistaken Identity With Rodney’s Plantain, Sam Fuld, A Pair of Friday Lineups

By Robbie Knopf

Identity has been a key issue for the Rays since the end of last season. While every team in baseball will tell you that they’re “looking for their team identity” in spring training, though, the word “identity” has a special meaning for the Rays right now. This past offseason, they signed right-handers Roberto Hernandez and Juan Carlos Oviedo, formerly known as Fausto Carmona and Leo Nunez respectively, taking a chance on both after getting caught for identity theft had derailed their careers. And now, there has been yet another case of identity theft: Fernando Rodney‘s magic plantain. Rodney confessed to Marc Topkin on Thursday.

"Rodney told writers in San Francisco he had it flown in from the Dominican as a good luck charm, but he said Thursday that wasn’t really true. Actually, he said, he got it from a fan, who also might have been a friend, before the semifinal game in exchange for an autographed ball."

Oh no! Rodney later said that he won’t use the plantain during the regular season because it was a “WBC plantain,” but that may just be a cover-up for the 1-year suspension that plantain will incur for lying in its immigration papers from the Dominican Republic to the US. It will be interesting to see if the Rays re-sign the plantain to an incentive-laden contract following the season after seeing its incredible potential during the World Baseball Classic.

Back to reality, Joe Smithof the Tampa Bay Times sent out an encouraging tweet earlier today.

The Rays have been adamant that Fuld will be ready for Opening Day the entire spring, but it’s nice to see Fuld actually set to get into a game and make the necessary preparations to be in the swing of things when the season begins. Fuld unexpectedly got into a minor league game on Thursday, walking in 4 plate appearances as DH, and with a major league game coming soon, it looking more and more like The Legend of Sam Fuld will be starting from Opening Day this time around.

One reason that you can say for sure that spring games don’t matter is split-squad games- basically you’re dividing your team begging to be conquered. In any event, two baseball games are always better than one, and here are your Rays lineups for Friday.

Vs. Orioles
Sean Rodriguez, 2B
Mike Fontenot, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Leslie Anderson, RF
Yunel Escobar, SS
James Loney, 1B
Jose Molina, C
Jack Cust, DH
Jason Bourgeois, CF

Jeff Niemann, SP

Vs. Pirates
Desmond Jennings, CF
Kelly Johnson, LF
Ben Zobrist, SS
Matthew Joyce, RF
Luke Scott, DH
Ryan Roberts, 3B
Shelley Duncan, 1B
Chris Gimenez, C
Cole Figueroa, 2B

Alex Cobb, SP

Neither lineup is a slouch, with only Anderson in the former and Figueroa in the latter not having MLB experience, and the Rays hope to see the regulars in both games play well enough to come away with a pair of wins. Most notable among the two lineups is that Jose Molina is getting into his first Grapefruit League game since returning from the World Baseball Classic. He’s in the exact opposite situation as Rodney after barely playing as Puerto Rico’s backup catcher during the WBC, and the Rays hope to get him some at-bats and get him comfortable at the plate and behind it when the season starts.