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It's only spring: Rays' Sonnanstine allows 5 homers in 11 batters

David Brown
Big League Stew

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There's more than one reason a bat adorns a shoulder of Tampa Bay Rays righty Andy Sonnanstine(notes) in this photo.

It's not only because Sonnanstine comes into 2011 batting a career .318 (7-for-22) with three walks in his limited plate appearances.

It's also because the Baltimore Orioles were driving him batty with home runs Tuesday.

Sonnanstine allowed five homers in the first 11 batters he faced. Our own 'Duk was on the ground at Ed Smith Stadium for the shellacking, which the Orioles won 12-6. Incoming!

Sonnanstine, who saw 12 batters overall, threw 15 of 18 pitches for strikes. Nick Markakis(notes) made him pay twice; Vladimir Guerrero(notes), Adam Jones(notes) and Jake Fox(notes) also took him deep.

The Heater has video of Sonnanstine's reaction.

"I had a little bit of an anomaly," Sonnanstine said.

A reporter also asked if Sonnanstine could recall ever giving up that many homers in a game. He could not recall, because four was his max in one game — regular season, anyway — against the New York Yankees on June 8, 2009.

Stewie @Dianagram of the Bronx Banter Blog quickly referred to the search tool at Baseball Reference and discovered that former Chicago Cubs right-hander Steve Stone allowed five home runs (while facing 13 batters) to the Cincinnati Reds in a 1974 ballgame.

That's the modern record, such as it is.

Sonnanstine would have broken it had his performance come in a regular-season game.

Alas, IT'S ONLY SPRING TRAINING, so what's the difference? How many memories does anyone have of a spring training performance of any kind?

Sonnanstine, who comes into the season a solid bet to make the Rays bullpen rotation probably was just "working on some stuff." Usually, that is the case. Pitchers tend to throw a lot of fastballs, along with some change-ups, early in spring games. They shoot for the zone. Sometimes, they get too much of it.

"Me being a strike-thrower probably worked against me a little bit today," Sonnanstine said.

That's probably what happened against the O's. Probably.

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