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The great raccoon chase

Posted by Amalie Benjamin  February 27, 2009 12:52 PM

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- We're coming to you live from Port Charlotte, where the Rays and Red Sox are about to get started here this afternoon. There was a lot going on this morning, from Rocco Baldelli refusing to name which member of the Rays he'd go after first in a fight -- "I'm a lover, not a fighter," he said -- to the Rays' trainer giving a few more details on the Baldelli situation to a manager and his former players sharing the field (Gabe Kapler and Lars Anderson and Josh Reddick) to one of the funnier moments so far this spring.

That would be the great raccoon chase.

Around 11 a.m., as the Rays were taking batting practice, a couple of grounds crew members were creeping through the stands with a ball bucket and a net. The reason became apparent soon enough. There was a raccoon racing around the stands, including the luxury boxes right behind home plate under the press box. He (or she) managed to elude the pursuers, and eventually leaped off a section of the stands onto a pad that was beneath it, and scampered off. But it was quite a spectacle, with the Rays coaching staff (including Don Zimmer and Joe Maddon) just about doubled over with laughter watching, and the Red Sox enthralled as well.

With that...

Here are the lineups for today's game:

Red Sox

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Jed Lowrie, SS
3. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
4. Rocco Baldelli, DH
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Brad Wilkerson, RF
7. Dusty Brown, C
8. Nick Green, 2B
9. Angel Chavez, 3B

Michael Bowden, SP

Rays

1. Fernando Perez, CF
2. Jason Bartlett, SS
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Pat Burrell, DH
5. Willy Aybar, 1B
6. Dioner Navarro, C
7. Ben Zobrist, LF
8. Gabe Gross, RF
9. Elliot Johnson, 2B

Jeff Niemann, SP

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