Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rays to Unveil Newest Wonder Jeff Niemann

Though he still cannot be regarded as a finished product, 25-year-old former first-round pick Jeff Niemann will be rushed into action as the Tampa Bay Rays newest pitching wonder, when Niemann will be named temporarily to the No. 5 spot in the rotation.

An announcement is pending.

The 6-foot-9, 260-pound Niemann -- fourth overall pick in the 2004 draft -- will take the place of No. 2 starter Matt Garza, who has been sidelined by what is described as a "radial nerve irritation" in his throwing arm. Garza will miss at least two weeks.

Niemann will be called up from the Triple A Durham Bulls, where he is 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in the young minor league season, after going 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in limited action with the parent club this spring. He was 12-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 25 starts with the Bulls last year.

Niemann's lively slider was the talk of camp this spring. He signed a $5.2 million contract in 2005, but until now has been unable to reach the 40-man roster after a setback due to shoulder and clavicle distress nearly three years ago.