Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
As Spring Training kicks into full gear, Joe Maddon is falling back on an old favorite.
The Tampa Bay Rays operate a little differently. They have to; the competitive disadvantage levied by their financial struggles leaves them no choice. To compete in the American League East they must do all the little things well, preach fundamentals, and sometimes get a bit lucky. Talent doesn't hurt. either.
Following an off-season that saw staff ace James Shields and long-time Rays CF B.J. Upton leave for new homes, some are questioning if the Rays have brought in enough talent to compete in the always tough American League East with the usual powerhouses and the resurgent Orioles and Blue Jays.
Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman thinks so, telling the players this was the "most talent they've ever had in that room at one time man-for-man."
Joe Maddon agrees, and not surprisingly, he's preaching process.
"To really be more process oriented," Maddon later said. "Really, really try to remain in the present tense. Be aware of the fact that you're going to make mistakes. I expect you to make physical mistakes, a lot of them. The thing I really want us to eradicate are the mental mistakes. That's what really controls wins and loses. Just know that we're going to be tolerant with physical mistakes."
- Dereck Violante of Rays Colored Glasses wonders if former Indian Grady Sizemore could offer a second half spark for the Rays? The oft-injured centerfielder could fit the clubs reclamation project model on a low-risk deal.
- ESPN's Jayson Stark had a piece on Yunel Escobar in which the embattled shortstop claims he is "a different man"
- At Rays camp, intrepid Tampa Bay Times reporter Mark Topkin interviewed Jake Ordorizzi after his first bullpen session turned some heads.
- Sombrero-wearing former Ray Jonny Gomes doesn't think that the Rays will ever draw a crowd at Tropicana Field. "This is like, retired, kicked-back, watch-the-game in your front yard with a TV,’’ he said. "This isn’t, go inside. This is an outside joint.’’
- Latest in the Biogenesis saga has an ESPN Outside the Lines report stating that Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez did not take any banned substances.