News and Notes 8/10: Crawford On Fire

Carl Crawford extended his hitting streak to 11 games, and now has 20 hits in his last seven games. He also has the best average in the majors since the All-Star break -- .432.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays right-hander Andy Sonnanstine got to the major leagues by mixing speeds, pitches and arm angles and freezing batters with an assortment of different looking breaking pitches. But that isn't working so well now that he's here.

The rookie right-hander has now gone 11 games and two full months since his last -- and only -- win in his second big-league start, and his ERA has soared to 6.35. A primary reason has been the ineffectiveness of his slider and changeup.

Manager Joe Maddon said Sonnanstine needs to sharpen up his breaking ball and make more use of his fastball. Sonnanstine agreed with Maddon's suggestions, but that might not work so well either. Sonnanstine's fastball usually tops out in the 88-89 mph range, which isn't going to overwhelm big-league hitters.

And it would suggest a departure from what got him to the big leagues. "I can get away with more breaking pitches in the minors, and I'm learning that that's not going to cut it here," Sonnanstine said. "I'll go back and watch the video and try to work on some things."

RANGERS 7, RAYS 4: Poor starting pitching, sloppy fielding, a leaking bullpen and an unproductive offense usually add up to a loss, and it did Friday even against the second-worst team in the American League. Right-hander Andy Sonnanstine gave the Rays a bad start, and things went downhill from there.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Fernando Cabrera will be a pitcher of considerable interest to the Rays when he clears release waivers on Monday. Cabrera was let go by the Indians after going 1-2 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 games, but the Rays feel his arm strength and samples of major-league success make him worth pursuing.

--RF Delmon Young got a half-day off as DH on Friday, and CF B.J. Upton will get his turn on Saturday and LF Carl Crawford on Sunday. The rotation will allow Jonny Gomes to play in the field three straight days, which should be a good thing since he hit .187 as a DH and .330 as an outfielder even after going 0-for-4 Friday.

--LHP Casey Fossum was released by the Rays on Friday after declining an outright assignment to Triple-A, but the 29-year-old expects to be pitching elsewhere soon. "I definitely want to hook on with another team if it's the right situation," Fossum said. "I'm excited to have the possibility to pitch for a winning team and actually be playing for something."

--OF Rocco Baldelli remains on track to start a minor-league rehab assignment in 7-to-10 days and will be used as an OF/DH when he returns in September, though B.J. Upton will remain the primary center fielder. Manager Joe Maddon said "it's not out of the question" Baldelli could try first base, but there has been no talk of a move.

--LF Carl Crawford extended his hitting streak to 11 games, and now has 20 hits in his last seven games. He also has the best average in the majors since the All-Star break -- .432.

BY THE NUMBERS: 61 -- Career homers by Carl Crawford, good enough to move into third place on the Rays' all-time home-run list, though matching the seventh-most on the all-time list for a single season, Roger Maris in 1961.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Molten. Magma. What is there?" -- Manager Joe Maddon, trying to describe how far past red-hot Carl Crawford has been of late.

MEDICAL WATCH:

RHP Jay Witasick (right elbow strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 22. He made a rehab appearance Aug. 8 for Class A Vero Beach, and he is scheduled to make another minor league appearance Aug. 11.

CF Rocco Baldelli (left hamstring strain) went on the disabled list retroactive to May 16. He re-injured the hamstring while on a rehab assignment with Class AAA Durham on June 18. He might start a rehab assignment before the end of August.

RHP Jeff Niemann (shoulder fatigue) is expected to miss only two starts for Class AAA Durham. He came out of the July 30 game after throwing only five pitches. A doctor's evaluation showed no structural damage, and he is set to return to the Durham rotation Aug. 15.

C Shawn Riggans (right elbow surgery) went on the 15-day disabled list June 4. He underwent the procedure in late July to remove a "loose body" from the elbow, and he is out for the season.

RHP Doug Waechter (shoulder surgery) has been out all season. He started a rehab assignment in June.


Rays Digest Top Stories