Monday, March 23, 2009

The DH rule: You decide

The Rays and Pirates are presenting fans with a unique look at the designated hitter rule Monday during their game at McKechnie Field.

Since it is a National League park, spring training rules say pitchers must hit. But the NL manager has the option of using a DH to get a position player more at-bats.

The DH was used during the first two trips to Bradenton this spring.

But today, the Rays will continue to use the DH, while the Pirates will let their pitchers hit.

That will basically amount to Pirate starter Zach Duke getting one, maybe two at-bats, before fans are treated to a parade of pinch-hitters.

The Rays will use Matt Joyce as the DH. Joyce has missed most of spring training because of an injury to his right calf.

So, the age-old debate (started in 1973) will rage on at McKechnie: is baseball better or worse with the DH.

You decide.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ode to a cap

Saw this hat in the team store at McKechnie Field a few years back. Almost bought it. Didn't. Now wish I did.

They don't carry it now, of course. I suppose I can find it on-line.I remember when teams wore these pillbox hats in 1976. The Mets, Phillies, Reds and Pirates. There might have been more teams, but those I remember. It was to honor the 100th anniversary of the National League, so only National League teams wore them.

I thought they were kind of goofy then, but I was in the eighth grade, so what did I know?The 1979 Pirates wore the gold and black pillboxes to the World Series title - their last.I

've always liked the Pirates, and have met a few of the guys from the 1971 and 1979 championship teams over the years at Pirate City. Nicew guys, every one of them.

I have a hat from the 1971 season, replica, of course.Now I want one from 1979.

Wish I bought it that day at McKechnie.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Shields to start Opening Day

Rays manager Joe Maddon announced his rotation for the season Wednesday.

James Shields will start the opener April 6 in Boston. He'll be followed by Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine.

Shields gets the Opening Day nod because he's earned it, Maddon said.

Kaz is No. 2 because Maddon wants to split the two right-handers with the left-handed Kazmir.

As for the fifth starter, the Rays won't need one until April 15, so Maddon doesn't have to make a decision for a few more weeks.

Don't expect it to be David Price. The left-hander will more than likely start the season at Triple A.

The No. 5 spot will probably go to either Jeff Niemann or Jason Hammel with the odd-man-out headed to the bullpen.

Of course, there is always the possibility of a trade.