As it turns out, I got home in plenty of time to watch the Rays-Phillies matchup on Saturday evening. And it turned out to be a bit of a slugfest at a breezy Bright House Field in Clearwater. Mitch Talbot - one of the outsiders for the rotation's fifth spot - was starting for the Rays, and suffered a rough first inning. He gave up five runs and three homeruns before getting out of it. Still, he came back and pitched a scoreless second and third, so it wasn't a total disaster for him.
Next up in the battle for rotation duties was Jason Hammel, starting against the Jays on Sunday. By all accounts he put himself to the front of the line with four scoreless innings (three hits allowed). Carlos Hernandez followed, but was hampered by some shaky defense - it looks like the Rays have been comitting more than their fair share of errors so far this spring. Not that I'm overly worried. Not yet, anyway.
Positive signs are coming from the few regulars who have been playing so far - CC belted two triples in Sunday's game, while Evan Longoria hit 3 doubles in 2 games over the weekend.
Yesterday, Wade Davis went to the hill for the second time this spring. He's the longest shot of all to make the rotation, but he had another fine outing anyway - 3 2/3 innings, no runs, just one hit allowed. The Rays won that one over the Cards, to move their spring record to 2-4, if that means anything at this point.
Story so far on the pitching - definitely looking good. The big four (Kaz, Shields, Garza and Sonnanstine) won't start pitching until the weekend, but the competition behind them is looking fierce. Right now, Jason Hammel is looking the favourite to get the nod, although it has been solid outings all round. I reckon we could well see Hammel take the fifth spot, with Jeff Niemann in the 'pen to start the year. Then we'll have Wade Davis, Mitch Talbot and David Price starting the year at AAA - I'd advise hitters looking to get their swing honed to avoid playing against Durham for the first month or so of the season!