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Jumping-off point

Posted Mar 2, 2008 by Marc Lancaster

Updated Mar 2, 2008 at 01:44 PM

Watch birds for a while around here and you start to wonder how they think. The Rays are currently in the midst of their morning meeting in short right field at Progress Energy Park, but the rest of the outfield is covered in seagulls—more than 100 of them spread out, just lounging in the sun. They’ve been there since I got here about an hour ago, and a minute ago they all suddenly flew away, did a circle and came right back down and landed. I’ve seen my Hitchcock, so I know they’re into groupthink, but man, it’s kind of weird.

Anyway, enough orinthology. We’re only a few hours away from an epic Rays-Pirates tilt down at my favorite Grapefruit League park, McKechnie Field. Here’s the way Joe Maddon’s squad will line ‘em up:

Ben Zobrist 2B
Eric Hinske LF
B.J. Upton CF
Cliff Floyd DH
Jonny Gomes RF
Evan Longoria 3B
Shawn Riggans C
Joel Guzman 1B
Andy Cannizaro SS
Jeff Niemann P

Other pitchers scheduled to throw include: Kurt Birkins, Wade Davis (possibly two innings), Chris Mason, Scott Munter and Jae Kuk Ryu (two innings). Jake McGee and James Houser are also on the travel squad.

Updating with the Pirates’ lineup, now that I’ve arrived in Bradenton:

Jack Wilson SS
Doug Mientkiewicz 3B
Jason Bay LF
Ryan Doumit C
Xavier Nady RF
Ronny Paulino DH
Steve Pearce 1B
Chris Gomez 2B
Kevin Thompson CF
Tom Gorzelanny P

Speaking of travel squads, here’s tomorrow’s group for the trip to Lakeland to face Jeremy Bonderman and the Tigers:

Infield: Iwamura, Bartlett, Pena, Longoria, Aybar, Guzman, Hinske, Cannizaro, Johnson, Richard, Zobrist, Brignac
Outfield: Crawford, Upton, Gomes, Perez, Rodriguez, Ruggiano, Weber
Catchers: Navarro, Gimenez, Jaso, Spring
Pitchers: Garza, Balfour, Howell, Sonnanstine, Orvella, Mason, McGee, Houser

And looking ahead to the next two home games at Al Lang, the Twins are scheduled to start St. Pete’s own Boof Bonser on Tuesday and the Astros will throw former Royal Runelvys Hernandez on Wednedsay.

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