Among the players competing for jobs with the Tampa Bay Rays this season will be former Fort Wayne Wizards, Michael Ekstrom and J.J. Furmaniak.
Ekstrom was claimed off waivers from the Padres who designated him for assigmnent to make room for John Garland. The 26-year-old right-hander made his Major League debut back in September of 2008. He logged 18.3-innings in his twelver games of MLB action last year. While at Triple-A Portland, he had a 1.73 ERA over 62.3 innings.
While with the Wizards in 2005, Ekstrom went 13-6 with a 3.70 ERA and 112 strikeouts over 167.2 innings pitched. He also appeared in 3 games with the Wizards in 2004. He was 0-2.
Furmaniak has 29 games of MLB experience under his belt, seeing time with the A’s and Pirates. While withthe Pirates in 2005, he experienced a “Field of Dreams moment” when he descretely sprinkled some of his grandfather’s ashes on the Wrigley field ivy. He also place with Yokohama of hte Japanese Central League in 2008 before returning to the US as a Phillies farmhand in 2009.
With the Wizards in 2001, Furmaniak appeared in 123 games, hitting .220 with five dingers and 35 RBI.