Results tagged ‘ Luke Scott ’

Rays Wolverine has Encounter With Mr Hammy.

I was going to start this post today saying something like “ who cares if he has a jacked-up Hugh Jackman ‘ Wolverine’ facial recognition, as long as Tampa Bay Rays new DH Luke Scott keep producing like this. Heck, his unique beard styling might become the 2012 Summer facial accessory around Tampa Bay”.

Just as quickly as I typed in that snippet, I gazed down and noticed Rays rookie Stephen Vogt coming out onto the On-Deck Circle with Scott nowhere in sight as a scanned the dugout bench. Got to admit, it instantly freaked me out to the core having known the cursed history the Rays have endured with their past DH malfunctions. Seeing someone replaced this early in a ballgame is not ever a good sign.

So leave it to the always repressed and lying in wait “Mr. Hammy” to take a hold of Scott’s hind quarters and jerk on it like it was a banana waiting to be peeled. Could Scott be the latest victim of the mystery plague that seems to descend upon players who man the Rays DH position?

Hamstring injuries have a way of being unpredictable especially in positions where you come into a contest a bit cold and not firmly stretched out after sitting for a bit, then are called into producing energy and motion again without a suitable warm-up session. The DH spot definitely calls into play constant movement and keeping the body limber and ready for anything, but injuries like this can still produce even with all the preventions.

We now know Scott will be considered day-to-day for at least the upcoming road trip to Detroit and Boston. We all knew going into 2012 that Scott came with a warning label, but we thought it might pertain more to his vocal comments than a lingering shoulder aliment…or worse.

From Paul Sorrento to Luke Scott, getting posted up as the Rays DH has materialized into a quasi-death sentence either for your Rays batting average or unexpected injuries. With Scott coming out of the contest after 1 at bat with a sore hamstring, could the Rays past DH cursed conundrum of complications be gaining momentum, gaining steam quickly, elevating itself to mid-season level.

The way Scott performed on Saturday stroking the ball and driving in runs, it felt like the first time since the departure of old Rays wild child Jonny Gomes that the Rays DH position might have the ability to make a significant difference in terms of the Rays inconsistent offensive woes. I truly thought, even with 2 games into the season, Scott might just take this dastardly curse and break it over his knee sending it away for good.

Maybe it will take days tender rest and rehabilitation before Scott can again embark into his pseudo-Rays superhero alter ego and begin to bring change the Rays DH status quo. Maybe Scott wearing a “Wolverine”-style beard could end up being a good thing. Superheroes tend to have that resilient quality to overcome adversity and beam confidently as they always seem to triumph in the end.  First, Scott has to defeat the improbable and unrelenting Mr Hammy.

 

A Glimpse into the Rays 2012 Media Guide

This one publication I always await its arrival with great anticipation. This Spring I also had the great option of downloading a version so I could always have it at my fingertips for research, analysis or just gazing upon its 434 pages. I get excited the first time I open its cover. Not for the special freshly printed paper smell, but for the factoids, entertaining sidebars and information that makes it click, breathe and be a cherished item for any true Rays Republican.

Of course I am talking about the 2012 edition of the Tampa Bay Rays Media Guide. I remember just a few weeks ago standing in the Rays media front desk awaiting my Spring Training daily credentials and overhearing a Rays staffer chat about their “ all-nighter” to get this season’s guide off to the printer. You had to be there to see the excitement in his eyes along with a hint of sleep deprivation, but within his voice you could hear the pride and resolution that a great product would soon grace our hands.

So let’s go on a little fact-finding mission shall we to seek our some new and interesting factoids about the men who don the Rays white and blue, plus maybe even a few odd facts that none of you knew about some of our current Rays players. It’s now time to feast on the bytes and bits about our roster of Rays players.

Kyle Farnsworth, an avid hunter does a lot of stalking during the off-season on his 2,500-acre plot of land in Georgia. Farnsy plans to so something original this season during Rays games as he will don a special pair of camouflage-style Oakley glasses on the mound this season. Talk about escalating up the intimidation factor to 10 as he stares in for the signs late in games.

We all know already emphatically that 3B Evan Longoria can play the drums. He is known to hit the skins before games, is the Rays in-house drum master during the video game Rock Band performances and even got a lesson from Goo Goo Dolls drummer Mike Malinin before the group’s 2011 Saturday night post game appearance. No word yet if Joyce and Longo might sit in with Z Z Top, 3 Doors Down or Gretchen Wilson during their post game trio this June at the Trop.

In another great and fantastic twist to the ever-expanding world that is the “Legend of Sam Fuld”. When  Sam had a sore shoulder back in 2007, this prompted Super Sam to  investigate possibly throwing right-handed. Although his left shoulder did recover, he never had to rely heavily on his new-found ambidextrous talent. Still, Fuld borrowed a friend’s glove after the injury and practiced throwing right-handed against a wall of a Phoenix, Az elementary school after his morning workouts with the Chicago Cubs. Later that same season Fuld made his MLB debut….left-handed.

Did you know Rays reliever Joel Peralta began his professional baseball career as an outfielder back in 1997 in the Oakland A’s system. He converted to pitching 2 seasons later prior to the beginning of the 1999 season with the Los Angeles Angels. But his prior hitting skills came in handy on May 20, 2007 when Peralta, then with the Kansas City Royals hit a 2-run RBI double in his first ever MLB plate appearance off Colorado Rockies RP Ramon Ramirez in the 12th inning of an Inter-League contest.

As if Minnesota Twins C Joe Mauer needed another reason to hate facing Hellboy. This off-season Rays SP Jeremy Hellickson was chosen by the Twin Cities Chapter of the BBWAA as the winner of the Dick Siebert Award given to the Upper Midwest MLB Player of the Year. Hellickson’s win in 2011 broke a 3-year reign by Mauer.

Rays Manager Joe Maddon must think SS/INF Reid Brignac is a human rabbits foot. During his 8 professional baseball seasons, Briggy Baseball has seen 11 of his 13 teams advance to the post season, including his last 8 stops in the minors. Brignac only played for one losing team, in his short season pro debut back in 2004 with the Princeton franchise.

Rays RF Matt Joyce began taking guitar and piano lessons this past off-season. Joyce is now versed in Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” on the piano and “Wonderwall” by Oasis on his Yamaha acoustic guitar. I wonder if Joyce is a left-handed guitar player since he does everything else right-handed like eat, write play golf and throw, but hits left-handed.

Another player trying to secure a spot on the Rays roster as a catcher this season Jose Lobaton had to pick between 2 sports at a young age. Lobaton an avid and skilled swimmer had to make a hard decision at age 14 whether to pursue a chance to play with a traveling water polo squad, or play baseball. Although Lobaton chose baseball, he frequently hit the pool to keep in shape during the season ( and hopefully beats the Florida Summer sweltering heat).

Luke Scott, the Rays new DH/OF has traveled over the past 3 Winters to Valencia, Venezuela bringing supplies, medicine and baseball equipment to the local residents. Scott is giving back to his adopted community after spending several Winters in this region playing Winter ball and practicing his Spanish. No word yet on if this is the place Scott hatched the idea of taking down a wild boar with a spear…..to be continued.

This past January, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment used Tropicana Field to film live cheetahs for a segment of ShamuTV, an environmental educational series distributed all over the country. Upton, a fan of big cats, was filmed with a hight intensity camera showing the speed of an elite athlete compared to that of a cheetah. No word yet on if the cheetah was caught trying to steal second base…or Upton’s glove.

Seriously, I joked on a few of these small snippets because we have a truly amazing assembly of athletics and civic leaders that go above and beyond both on and off the turf for the Rays. There are plenty more great facts within the covers of the Rays 2012 Media Guide including photos and history of events surrounding this great franchise as it enters it 15th MLB season.

You can get your own copy of the Rays 2012 Media Guide at the Rays Fan Store inside Tropicana Field during the upcoming 2012 season. It is well worth the investment and holds so many additional treasures and history.It is worth every penny of your investment.

One last fact before I conclude. Of the 934 players to appear on a MLB roster in 2011, Rays INF/OF Ben Zobrist was dead last in the alphabet. Even more amazing is the fact former Rays 1997 Expansion Draft selection Bobby Abreu ( 1st Round, 3rd D-Rays selection) heads this list of players. Amazing how from A-to-Z, this Rays club finds a way to set themselves apart in the MLB.

New Fire Churning in Upton’s Belly

I spoke with him at the 2012 Toby Hall & Friends Celebrity Golf Classic. He was excited, energetic and anxious to hit the field “officially”. I have to admit, over the last 4 Springs when I have talked to the Tampa Bay Rays CF  B J Upton, these phrases never came vividly into my mind.

Some will want to discount it immediately as Upton knowing he has to produce, make his name shine above the madness even before the Trade Deadline mark in late July. Other dark forces will destined it to Upton possibly entering his “walk” season knowing if he wants a big payday like former Rays LF Carl Crawford, now is the time to put the exclamation points after his name.

But with all that diverse and circumventing opinions and comments swirling around like the waters of the Rays Tank, I truly have a hunch that Upton finally feels a part of this team. Over the past 2 seasons his confidence inside the clubhouse has soared, and players now look to him for inspiration and pointers. Finally Upton seems to feel that veteran vibe, and it suits him, especially this Spring.

Say what you want on me pounding the drum hard for Upton, but his work ethic in the off-season, and his presence at Charlotte Sports Park even earlier than Pitchers and Catchers Report date shows his agenda firmly has the Rays best interest stamped prominently upon it. This is the Upton I have been waiting for to emerge and want to lead this young squad for a long time.

Of course it is only the first Spring contest, and all his pre-Spring rituals and workouts did play into his great start today against the Minnesota Twins on the Grapefruit League’s Opening Day.  You want to get really excited about Upton’s 2-for-2 day with a run scored, a double and a spirited triple to RCF. Possibly Upton has found that focus he has swatted away in the past, found terra firma in the Batter’s Box, finally feels confident and ready in his Rays skin. The next 33 days will fly by like the wind, and hopefully Upton can make the Rays Republic confident the 2012 edition of the B J Upton Show will be a “must see”  event.

As I talked to him on the 10th tee, Upton was excited that the Rays starting rotation would be all returning, and a few tweaks could make them even stronger for 2012. Was anxious to see if the MLB persona of Luke Scott was just an act, or if his psychological warfare and rampant dialogue was just the sort of things to rev the Rays machine somehow reminiscent of the energy and volatile emotions displayed in the past by ex-Rays wild child Jonny Gomes.

This is a guy who is harder on himself than any reporter or fan. Who knows his legacy has bruises, tarnished spots and some question his motives and intellect at times. But I truly feel by October we will have seen a different side of Upton at the plate, possibly making a lot of those darkened moments from the past washed off his reputation like the clay from his cleats. It is about time we get introduced to Upton, the team leader and not just the Rays resident scapegoat.

 

 

Blogger’s Note: It is that time of year again. Spring Training to also rid myself of the Winter fat and get my brain tuned in for baseball. I will attempt to stretch out my creative process, bring some new items to light and get into seasonal writing shape before the Rays officially open the season against the Evil Empire on April 6, 2012. Going to be rough, there are going to be tired moments, writer’s block and maybe even some moments where the whole process comes up resembling a no-hitter scorecard. But one thing is for sure, I am excited to again be writing about actual baseball and not hoping for it……Play Ball!!!!

Luke Scott-Motivational Rays Republic Speaker


I truly have to say it, I like the brash style displayed recently by new Tampa Bay Rays Designated Hitter Luke Scott. Some will say his recent Red Sox quotes went beyond the usual brash and pointed commentary that any usual Major League Baseball player will mutter. But didn’t he say bluntly state what most of us in the Rays Republic have come to know as fact from 1998 until 2008. Red Sox Nation arrogance ran rampant within the confines of Tropicana Field before the Rays squashed the red beating hearts in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. Before that moment, we were never considered the “team to beat” by Red Sox Nation. In that one moment, the momentum of confidence and commitment seemed to shift suddenly towards the Rays side of the rivalry fulcrum.

And whereabouts in Scott’s banter and rant did anything untrue rear its ugly head. Sure his voracious comments were a bit pointed, but competition and confidence breeds that sort of ramblings. And Scott has witnessed more than a few seasons of playing in the highly charged emotions that come with playing in the  AL East. I truly think Scott said what has been sequestered deep inside most of the Rays Republic’s guts for so long, and got the attention of everyone in baseball, not just the vocal and vindictive Red Sox Nation Army So now at least one Rays player’s true feelings are open for all to see, wonder who else in the Rays Clubhouse has these same volatile emotions churning in their gut.

I would be the last person you would ever consider “timid”, but the reality was I did take more than I gave from the Boston faithful in our earlier seasons. I  can attest to letting more than a few raspy Red Sox comments bounce off of me because we had not “walked that walk yet” aka the playoffs. Back then I know I gave an extra ounce of respect to the Red Sox Nation’s fans that came into Tropicana Field basically because we (the Rays) had not ventured into that sacred October dance. Now that scenario is null and void.

Of course the first factoid out of any self-respecting Red Sox fan would be they have more titles, even a World Series title while the Rays missed their chance in 2008. True, but  the Rays also do not have over 100 seasons of baseball to thrust our chests out about, and over the course of the last 4 MLB seasons the Rays have definitely put together more post seasons and more wins in the regular season. Think about that one for a long moment Bean town fans.

Now I am not proclaiming we are the ” team to beat”, I am announcing it. To get to the playoffs from now on, you have to win in Tropicana Field. You will have to post a winning slant in the seasonal series and either put your foot on our necks or pay the consequences.  Gone are the days of the timid and inexperienced Rays. 2012 will bring a more seasoned Rays crew that are eager and anxious to send more than a few more corks skyward towards the Trop’s Teflon roof. This is no longer your older brother’s Rays team, there is a new motivational sheriff in town and his name is Scott….Luke Scott.

No longer can Tropicana Field be considered, “Fenway South” where Red Sox unis and caps outnumbered the home folks. The Rays trademark cowbells now drown out overblown and arrogant “Let’s Go Red Sox” chants along with countless Boston baseball biblical facts which now fall upon deaf Rays Republic ears. The revolution has ended, and we are the home team now….and forever. Now, the Rays Republic has grown a pair, and can stand toe-to-toe with facts, figures and banners to prove we have arrived, and take our share of future titles and playoffs spots.

Sure Scott has a lingering history of being a bit abrasive, a bit of a vocal bully as it were, but maybe that is what this Rays teams needs. Maybe it is time for this team to transform into a squad that takes the mantra “No more Mr Nice guy” and begins to turn it up a notch, go for that ceremonial jugular and feast upon the weak and wicked. Maybe it is time for this Rays squad to become more evil, mean and nasty both on and off the field like their fellow Nor’eastern brethren.

Maybe here in our 15th Rays season it is time for the Rays Republic to remind themselves the Trop is our home turf and we should defend it’s honor.  Maybe it took someone like Scott to bellow to the heavens and remind us we do not play in “Fenway South”. That St. Petersburg, Florida is a  great travel destination where “opposing team’s winning chances go to die”. Maybe it is finally time for us to take our Southern hospitality and charm and stow it away for not only our Boston brethren who used to berate and basically us weak and worthless to eat those words as they sulk out of the Trop after another Boston loss.

Maybe Scott was the one Rays player’s voice needed to put that pronounced exclamation point back into our destiny of reclaiming our insurgence back into the spotlight in the AL East. So what if the MLB instituted a possible additional post season slot, the Rays are playing for the gold, not the bronze. 

Maybe Scott reminded us that the AL East competition starts now, in the Spring Training where the entire division rests on the west coast of Florida. Maybe his small seed of assertiveness will spawn and escalate throughout the next few months, finally maturing and vested come October. I am beginning to like Scott more than you can imagine, but then again, I am a Renegade.

Great Scott!

Not sure if I should send an edible fruit bouquet or an animated “thank You” card to Rays Executive VP of Baseball Operations. I know some found the “Ghost Protocol” blog a bit far-fetched or even too realistic, but the pure fact is the Rays were on silent running because they did not want the rest of the AL East to know they finally got the player Friedman has asked about for the past 2 Trade Deadlines.

I honestly think the signing of Luke Scott to a one year deal with a club option for 2013 is a firm step in the positive direction of finding a Designated Hitter that can grow within the Rays fold. Sure Scott might be a bit of a late bloomer, but they said the same thing about Jonny Gomes when he was a DH, and he blossomed quite nicely after leaving for the Reds and eventually being traded to the Nationals.

Considering Scott also has a home in Florida located in De Leon Springs (Volusia county). The only thing that could possibly stand in the way of Scott taking the Rays DH role and pouncing on it is a setback from his July 2011 shoulder (torn right labrum) surgery. But all indications are that his rehab has been productive, and Scott should be ready to go in about 45-50 days at full steam and is currently in the midst of his own intense off-season workout regimen. Scott also could see some time possibly during the Inter-League portion of the 2012 schedule in the outfield if his throwing shoulder has healed sufficiently.

He seems to be the offensive weapon the Rays have been seeking for a few seasons, with Friedman always asking the Orioles about his availability come late July, and always finding the prospective package too rich for the Rays blood. But when Scott is healthy, he could be a godsend to a Rays offense that at time rolls into a hitting funk at the wrong moments. Scott has hit 23 or more home each season from 2008-2010 before he was limited to 9 HRs over his 64 games in 2011. In his best showing for the birds, Scott hit for a .284 average with 27 HR, 72 RBI and a .368 on-base percentage back in 2010.

Still, it was great the Rays could finally get Scott without having to send prospects or even MLB ready players to their divisional foes the Orioles thanks in part to them non-tendering Scott earlier in the off-season. The terms of Scott’s 2012 Rays contract are still being ironed out, but you can bet there will be plenty of room for incentives if Scott can knock the cover off the ball or deposit some nice white souvenirs into the Trop’s stands. Scott does come to the Rays with the accolades of being a top-tier offensive weapon having been selected as the Oriole’s 2010 MVO (Most Valuable Oriole). And the cherry on top of it all..He is also an avid First Baseman.

If Scott can hit anywhere close to his .500 Slugging Percentage that he has displayed in the past, he could be a nice addition and a good bit of protection for Evan Longoria. It has been a few years since Longo has had a hitter behind him who can command a pitching staff to pitch to him in fear of giving the next guy an ample chance for a run-producing at bat. Scott could be a great equalizer, especially if he gets ahead in the count and makes his rival possibly groove one in on him.

That is where Scott reminds me so much of Gomes. He has that type of power to get the bulk of the bat on the ball late and drive it towards First Avenue South with a simple twist of the wrists. That kind of consistent power display and ability has been missing with the Rays for some time. Plus with a one years deal and a 2013 club option, if the Rays and Scott do not fit together right, Scott could again be a free agent in the off-season of 2012.

Scott has a pure passion for guns and hunting, which might make him an instant friend of Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann, but he is also someone who has his opinions and is not afraid to voice it loud and proud no matter if you in his corner or not. Mark Reynolds, an old Baltimore teammate of Scott possibly has the best explanation of “Scott being Scott” :

He doesn’t hide it, he doesn’t talk behind people’s backs about anything. A lot of people have those opinions and don’t say anything. Did I think he needed to go to the Winter Meetings and say all those things” Probably not. But he’ll give you his opinion.”

So as you can see from Reynold’s comments, Scott comes with some concerns, but has generally been a positive force in the clubhouse. It is away from the playing field and his teammates that Scott has made a few less than adamant “followers”. He was a Baltimore fan favorite, being accessible and gracious to the fan base, but he did have a tendency to rub some the wrong way with his devote religious beliefs and political opinions. I think if the Rays did win the World Series in 2012, Scott might not have an instant invite to the White House.

But he has also been known to have a razor-sharp wit sometimes going above and beyond the usual lines like throwing plantain chips at a player to keep him in line. But that is another quality that is very similar to Gomes in that Scott is almost like an larger-than-life animated cartoon character in the clubhouse and vocally.

Heck, some might remember Scott ruffled a few Rays feathers in the past spouting off about former Rays hurler Matt Garza and making sure his Home Run celebrations against the Rays had a bit of an extra kick to them. So Scott might be one of those “tough love” guys, one of the people who will tell it like it is, and make you sorry you asked the question for the abrupt response to your query.

But Scott should love this region. Did you know Scott is fluent in Spanish and loves the Latin culture. That should go great with a team with plenty of Latin flair, plus a community that boasts the second largest Hispanic population in the state. In the end, the Rays got the guy they have been peering at from afar for several seasons. Scott is also a great contributor to local clinics, special events and charity events. He has the personality that can be a crowd pleaser and a seat filler not matter the event or the reason for the assembly. 

The echo of his bat meeting the ball in the trop should sound like thunder, and hopefully he will rain down a few HR showers over the course of a season. His love for all things Latin, including the language will make him likeable, respected and a quick fan favorite. I can hear the Raysvision clip now as Scott rounds the bases after hitting one into the seats. On the scene is Doctor Emmitt Brown in a clip from “Back to the Future”, and you know the line……”Great Scott!

Who knows, maybe they will use this clip……

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 279 other followers