06/05/10 12:26 AM ET
Rangers, Rays ready to turn up the heat
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
Game-time temperatures for Saturday's game between the Rays and Rangers are expected to be in the 100s and it could provide a challenge for both teams.
The Rays are not accustomed to the warm temperatures because they play inside at Tropicana Field, where the temperature is always 72 degrees. That said, they will be ready.
"I remember the days in the Arizona Instructional League when it was 105 degrees at 1 o'clock from like September 16 through October 15," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "One year it did not get under 100 degrees until October 15. So a lot of these guys were raised under these circumstances."
James Shields will take the mound for the Rays against Texas starter Tommy Hunter. Shields isn't concerned with the weather. He can also bring the heat.
"I'm not really too worried about it," he said. "My conditioning is pretty good right now. I actually do like pitching in the heat. Keeps your body loose and you don't have to warm up as long to try and get loose. And only pitching every half inning, that's the good news."
Shields should be concerned with the Rangers' power. He has allowed nine home runs this season, tied for the third most in the American League. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.82 ERA in four career starts against the Rangers.
As for Hunter, he is making his first start of the season. He was supposed to be in the Texas rotation to start the season. But he came down with a strained muscle in his left ribcage in Spring Training and started the season on the disabled list.
"He just needs to keep the ball down in the zone and battle like he always does," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's healthy, that's the main thing."
The heat could be a factor.
"I think it's more difficult for the Rangers because they're here all the time," Maddon said. "And eventually that can be a little taxing. But as the visiting club, stay hydrated, you've got to go out there and play hard. It's just another form of bad weather. We've played well in bad weather this year."
Rays: Getting beat in Texas heat
Tampa has dropped 8 of its last 11 games in Arlington, dating back to 2008. ... Shortstop Jason Bartlett was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, and catcher Kelly Shoppach, who is from nearby Fort Worth, Texas, returned to team from Triple-A Durham. ... Friday night's game was a homecoming of sorts for Hank Blalock and Joaquin Benoit, who each spent eight years with the Rangers.
Rangers: Hunter ready for action
Hunter was 9-6 with a 4.10 ERA in 15 starts for the Rangers last year and went 1-2 with a 4.05 ERA in six starts at Triple-A Oklahoma City this year. In 26 2/3 innings he has allowed 28 hits while walking 11 and striking out 14. "I'm feeling good and ready to go. It's just like before," Hunter said. "I need to go out and keep the ball down and let the defense make plays."
At 24, David Price is the youngest pitcher to be leading the American League or the National League in wins and ERA on June 4 since 23-year-old Wilson Alvarez led the AL with the White Sox in 1993 (his eight wins were tied for first and his 2.55 ERA was first). ... The Rays have two first-round picks and six of the first 100 selections in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, which begins on Monday. They will make three of the first 42 picks, and five of the first 79. ... Michael Young has gone 4-for-7 with the bases loaded this season and is a career .354 (40-113) hitter with the bases full. He has hit safely in 18 of his last 19 games, batting .405 (32-for-79) during that stretch.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.