Players to Watch: Rays
- Desmond Jennings: Jennings is one of the most highly touted young players in all of baseball. He’s an athletic freak and a five tool player (think B.J. Upton 2.0). Unfortunately, since returning from a knee injury he just hasn’t been the same (.265/.333/.398 pre-injury, .202/.272/.327 post-injury) If Jennings can get going, he could be a dynamic offensive force on the same level as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, but for now, he’s been relegated to the bottom third of the batting order.
- B.J. Upton: Upton gets insanely hot at times and then he gets insanely cold. That’s been the story of his career so far. He posses so much raw talent and ability but it seems like he either can’t harness it or simply refuses to harness it. If he heats up during this series he could be a nightmare. If not, the Rays’ lineup becomes a lot easier to deal with.
Players to Watch: Indians
- Travis Hafner: Pronk is back! Now we all get to see what type of impact he really has in the middle of the lineup. Many people, myself included, feel like Hafner’s presence in the lineup makes life easier for everyone, especially Carlos Santana. Now that he’s back we all get to see if the theory is true. Hafner needs to play well and he needs to give this team some consistent offensive firepower.
- Carlos Santana: This goes along with my point about Hafner. If Hafner is as important to this lineup as we all believe he is, then we should begin to see some positive results from Santana. We can start off slow with better at bats before graduating to RBI doubles and home runs, but positive signs are a must. If not, then it might be time to start sacrificing chickens in the club house and worshiping voo doo gods.
Series Trivia: This is the third time in five seasons that the Indians have played a four-game series versus the Rays at home prior to the All-Star break. The Indians played the Rays in a four-game series in both 2008 and 2010 and now again in 2012. The Indians swept the Rays in 2008 and lost three of four in 2010.