By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Rays had some fun at the expense of the younger players.
For the second year, all Rays players with under one year of major league service had to participate in the Rays Idol karaoke competition – with the exception of Luke Maile, who had the honors of being the DJ for winning last year.
“It was really, really good this year. Way better than last year,” veteran Dana Eveland said. “Nobody did terrible. Last year, we had a few who were really bad. Everyone was prepared this year, I guess knowing the date, they had plenty of time to prepare.”
This year’s winner was Jaime Schultz, who began with Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.”
Schultz and Chih-Wei Hu, who crushed a version of “Carolina” by Parmalee at first, had a sing-off at the end to determine the victor.
“Chih-Wei only knew one song in English, and had been practicing really, really hard,” Eveland said. “Unfortunately, he had to try to sing another one, and then at that point Jaime had him.”
Schultz’s rendition of “Roses” by Outkast gave him the win.
TAKE A SEAT
A few minutes prior to Wednesday’s game, the Rays made a switch in their lineup, scratching Kevin Kiermaier for Dayron Varona. According to the team, Kiermaier had a stiff neck, and it’s not considered to be serious.
Cash said after the game that Kiermaier just slept on it wrong a few days ago, and it felt a little stiff after batting practice prior to the game.
Newly-acquired Jose De Leon will be making his first MLB Spring Training start. De Leon, who was traded from the Dodgers, didn’t appear in a game for them until Sept. 4 last season.
“Adrenaline isn’t always a bad thing. I try to use it as a good thing,” De Leon said. “I get anxious, but I’ll try to relax and have fun and do what I know how to do.”
Tim Beckham looked like a natural in left field on Wednesday. It was his first time ever playing the outfield.
Beckham was tested a few times, and made a great play in the second inning. Andrew Knapp hit a shot to deep left field, and Beckham had to range back, fight the sun, and made the play.
He did, however, have a little trouble on a ball hit over his head in the fourth inning which he had no play on. He continued to go for the ball rather than play it off the bounce, which allowed Aaron Altherr to hit a bases-loaded triple.
RAYS 5, TWINS 5
HITTER OF THE GAME
Jesus Sucre, Rays: The catcher mashed his second home run of the spring in the sixth inning. It was a two-run shot that gave the Rays a 4-3 lead.
PITCHER OF THE GAME
Jake Odorizzi, Rays: Jake Odorizzi cruised through his two innings of work on only 19 pitches (14 for strikes). He faced six batters, and forced five flyouts with one strikeout. The goal was to throw 30-35 pitches, so he finished his outing in the bullpen to get there.
Top third: In his first outing with the Rays, Tommy Hunter worked his way into and out of trouble. With the bases loaded, he forced Andres Blanco into a come-backer, and then Hunter flipped the ball to Rickie Weeks at first base to end the threat.
Jonah Heim, Rays: At the time, Jonah Heim’s RBI double late in the eighth inning seemed like an insurance run, but it turned out to be what the Rays needed to finish the day with a tie.
THEY SAID IT
“Mikie Mahtook last year was embarrassing. He didn’t even sing. He read the lyrics.”
Dana Eveland, Rays pitcher on the Rays’ annual rookie karaoke competition
TAMPA BAY (4-1-1) at BOSTON (1-5)
WHEN: Today, 1:05 p.m.
WHERE: JetBlue Park at Fenway South, Fort Myers
SCHEDULED STARTERS: RH Jose De Leon vs. LH Eduardo Rodriguez
RAYS: RH Jose De Leon (start), RH Chase Whitley, RH Kevin Gadea,
RED SOX:: LH Eduardo Rodriguez (start), RH Craig Kimbrel, LH Roenis Elias, LH Robby Scott, RH Noe Ramirez, RH Brandon Workman, RH Kyle Martin.
FRIDAY: vs. Detroit, 1:05 p.m. SATURDAY: vs. Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. SUNDAY: at Toronto, 1:07 p.m. MONDAY: Off Day. TUESDAY: vs. New York (AL), 1:05 p.m