Results tagged ‘ Joe Maddon ’

Maddon on home run-friendly Yankee Stadium

ST. PETERSBURG — After reaching the .500 mark for the eighth time this season, the Rays will enter the new Yankee Stadium on Friday for a critical four-game series against the American League East leaders.

Based on past results, home runs may be the deciding factor.
Through the first 25 games at Yankee Stadium this season, 91 balls left the yard. Comparatively, 93 home runs were hit through the first 25 games at the old Yankee Stadium in 2008 and ’07 combined.
The Rays played a two-game series in the Bronx from May 6-7 — winning both games — and nine balls went out.
Six of those were provided by the Rays in an 8-6 win in Game 2. And one of those — Jason Bartlett’s first-inning shot off Andy Pettitte — showed Rays manager Joe Maddon just how easily longballs can be triggered in the Yankees’ new place.
“The ball did go out in right,” Maddon recalled. “I mean, I can’t deny that. Even J.B.’s … he hit it out to right-center. That surprised me.”
The new Stadium’s dimensions are exactly the same as the old one. But, for some reason — whether it’s slightly altered dimensions, a smaller right-field wall or freak wind patterns — the new park plays smaller.
Nobody can really figure out why, though — including Maddon.
“I really don’t know what the issue is,” he said. “I mean, it doesn’t feel like there’s a strong breeze down there, and I don’t even know if it’s the open concourse. I’ve heard different things. But, for whatever reason, [the ball is] just going more.
“It’s hard to tell, but it was different [the last time the Rays played there].”
Check out more on the launching pad that now is Yankee Stadium here:
— Alden Gonzalez

6-4 lineups; Longo, Bartlett progressing

ST. PETERSBURG — When you score nine runs without your best player, you don’t tend to change things up the following game.

For Thursday, the Rays didn’t alter much in the starting lineup, except Michel Hernandez will give Dioner Navarro a breather behind the plate with the relatively quick turnaround, and Joe Dillon will serve as the designated hitter against Royals starter Gil Meche.
Evan Longoria (sore left hamstring) is available to pinch-hit on Thursday, but he has not been running at full speed yet. Manager Joe Maddon said if he bats, he’ll “waddle” to first base, and the Rays will get a pinch-runner. Longoria said he hopes to start at third base for the opener of a four-game series against the Yankees on Friday, but that has yet to be determined.
The 23-year-old hit live pitching in the batting cage on Thursday — there was no BP on the field — jogged and played catch. The only thing left is to run at full speed.
Shortstop Jason Bartlett (left ankle sprain) was able to jog on Wednesday — which he called “the biggest step” in his recovery — and though he felt a bit sore from that on Thursday, he said he “really can’t make [the ankle] worse.” This weekend, Bartlett will start running some arcs to further test the injury, then progress into taking ground balls and hitting more live pitching.
The 29-year-old is eligible to come off his DL stint Wednesday, but he’s not sure if he’ll be ready by that time. Bartlett does not, however, think he’ll need to play in Minor League rehab games before getting back.
“As long as I can come out and get some ground balls in and take some BP, I should be fine,” he said.
On to the lineups, as the Rays look to move to .500 for the eighth time this season:
Coco Crisp, CF
Alberto Callaspo, 2B
Billy Butler, 1B
Mike Jacobs, DH
Jose Guillen, RF
Mark Teahen, 3B
Miguel Olivo, C
David DeJesus, LF
Willie Bloomquist, SS
SP: Meche
B.J. Upton, CF
Carl Crawford, LF
Willy Aybar, 3B
Carlos Pena, 1B
Ben Zobrist, 2B
Matt Joyce, RF
Dillon, DH
Hernandez, C
Reid Brignac, SS
SP: James Shields
— Alden Gonzalez

6-3 recap before Royals finale

ST. PETERSBURG — Got some time to kill here before players have to report for their 4:08 p.m. ET game against the Royals on Thursday (is it just me, or is that a really odd time for a weekday game?).

Anyway, bunch of stuff from last night — which ended with the Rays beating Kansas City, 9-0, to improve to 27-28 and move to five back of the Red Sox and Yankees in the American League East.
* Evan Longoria’s sore left hamstring is fine. He’s likely to start at third base once Tampa Bay starts its four-game road series against the Yankees on Friday. I haven’t seen the lineup yet, but I can’t imagine he’d be on it Thursday.
UPDATE: Longoria just finished running around the infield and playing catch along the right-field line.
* Pat Burrell (stiff neck) was in here early getting treatment. He hit off the tee on Wednesday and is scheduled to do so again. The 32-year-old will stay back while his team is in New York this weekend and take live batting practice. If all goes well, the Rays will map out a schedule for him to take part in some rehab games.
* Jason Bartlett (left ankle sprain) and Scott Kazmir (mechanics issues and a right quad strain) are progressing, but still no timetable. Kazmir threw a bullpen session on Wednesday and will continue to do so — with a couple of off-days in between — for about a week. Then, perhaps, get in some rehab games (though that’s still unknown). It’s going to be interesting to see how the Rays handle Bartlett in the next six days. He’s eligible to come off his DL stint on Wednesday, but not much is known as to whether or not he’ll be ready.
* In case you haven’t heard, Jeff Niemann was really good on Wednesday night. In fact, better than he’s ever been since being the Rays’ fourth overall pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. The 26-year-old rookie — who’s had a rough start to his career ever since that Draft day — now sports a 2.03 ERA in his last five starts and is beginning to look like the 6-foot-9, hard-throwing, downhill stud Tampa Bay expected.
* More Niemann: With his complete-game, two-hitter on Wednesday (though the second-to-last out could’ve been ruled an error by Joe Dillon at third base) he became the eighth player in Rays history to throw a complete game shutout with two or fewer hits and the third Tampa Bay rookie. It was also the first complete game or shutout by a Rays pitcher since Matt Garza on Aug. 15, 2008, against the Rangers (afterward, Garza made sure he gave his teammate props by decking him in the face with a shaving-cream pie).
After Wednesday’s game, Maddon beamed about Niemann’s newfound confidence lately, and he feels it can continue to improve after his latest outing:
“When you can get a young pitcher to throw a complete game, often times it really does boost their confidence even more,” Maddon said. “To be able to be out there in the ninth inning standing and have command of the game does a lot for your confidence. … He’s starting to get it. He’s still a young man, there’s still a long ways to go, but I’ve seen a steady improvement in him over the last couple of months.”
With Scott Kazmir on the shelf, if Niemann — who many saw as the biggest question mark in the rotation going into the season — can continue to show he was worth an early pick in the Draft, the already dangerous Rays rotation could be flat-out deadly.
* Another below-the-radar guy who keeps producing is Ben Zobrist. More on his franchise-record fourth career grand slam on Wednesday will be on the site later, but here are some interesting numbers about Zobrist’s recent production, courtesy of the Rays’ PR staff.
– He’s started 11 straight games and reached base in 40 of his last 77 plate appearances (22-for-58, 16 walks, five home runs, 19 RBIs and seven doubles).
– Is currently tied for his career-high with a nine-game hitting streak that has him batting .387 (12-for-31) with nine walks in that span.
– He’s raised his team-best slugging percentage to .659, which would’ve been second in the AL — trailing Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis’ .664 — but Zobrist is 14 plate appearances shy of qualifying.
– Has 22 home runs in 331 at-bats since the beginning of 2008 — an average of 15.05 at-bats per home run.
Yes, eight guys — including four starters — are currently on the shelf for the Rays. But at least some of those who fans perhaps didn’t expect much from at the beginning of the year are keeping them afloat.
— Alden Gonzalez

Iwamura likely headed to DL; Bartlett, Shields fine

MIAMI — The reports were still a little hazy, but Akinori Iwamura is likely headed to the 15-day disabled list with a left knee injury, manager Joe Maddon said.

Iwamura said it was the worst pain he had ever felt since getting to the United States but wanted to wait for the MRIs before speculating if he’d be out for a long period of time.
For now, Maddon said his options at second base are open, with Willy Aybar, Ben Zobrist and recent call-up Reid Brignac being options.

“He’s not feeling really good right now,” Maddon said about Iwamura, who was in a brace.

“Obviously, when you get hit like that, you’re going to be in a lot of pain. And once he sat himself up, he was able to gather himself. I think the initial shot probably hurt a lot, but, again, I don’t know what it is, and I just know that we’re going to have a setback, and then do the MRI thing, and if I had to guess, he’s going to be on the DL.”

As for Jason Bartlett, who hurt his left ankle after being slid into by a stealing Dan Uggla and trying to pick catcher Dioner Navarro’s throw, that situation doesn’t appear to be too serious. Bartlett stayed in the game after walking it off. He won’t be in the lineup in the beginning of a four-game series against the Indians on Monday, but that was a planned off-day, considering he’s 0-for-15 lifetime against starter Fausto Carmona.

“I think [Uggla] just slid over it, and [the left ankle] rolled on me,” Bartlett said. “Tomorrow was a day off anyway, so hopefully it will feel better.”

James Shields was fine after getting hit by a comebacker from Ross Gload with two outs in the seventh inning. Maddon just wanted to get Grant Balfour in the game there.

— Alden Gonzalez

Iwamura wheeled off field after collision

MIAMI – The Rays lost their second baseman early on Sunday,
and it did not look good.

With one out in a tied game in the bottom of the eighth, the
Marlins had runners on first and second when Wes Helms hit a tapper back to
reliever Dan Wheeler. The right-hander picked it up and fired it to second
base, where Akinori Iwamura made the force out. But upon turning to fire the
ball to first, he was barreled into hard by rookie Chris Coghlan.

Iwamura laid on the ground in agony, and John Baker tried to
score from second, but shortstop Jason Bartlett wrestled the ball out of
Iwamura’s hand and gunned him down at the plate to preserve the 4-4 tie and end
the inning.

After that, the Rays players and medical staff – and eventually
the Marlins players who were coming back onto the field – huddled around
Iwamura, who stayed on the ground in pain for several minutes holding his left

Eventually, Iwamura was carried onto a cart and driven off
the field while getting an applause from the 12,839 fans at Land Shark Stadium.

Iwamura was diagnosed with a left knee injury. He will be driven back to St. Petersburg, Fa., on Sunday night, where he will get an MRI.

* Rays starter James Shields — who gave up four runs on a season-high 12 hits through 6 2/3 innings — got hit in the leg by a hard comebacker from Ross Gload with two outs in the seventh. After trying to get Gload at first but to no avail, he was taken out of the game by manager Joe Maddon. But Shields had 102 pitches at that point and didn’t appear to be in pain, so the move likely was just to get reliever Grant Balfour in the game.

— Alden Gonzalez

Longo’s fine; soggy weather in MIA

MIAMI — Surprise, it’s cloudy down here. Joe Maddon went to one of the head groundscrew workers at Land Shark Stadium to ask about the weather on Sunday morning, and all he could give the Rays’ skipper was a shake of the hand — meaning, it doesn’t look too good.

Everybody breathe, Evan Longoria is fine. He got hit by a Hayden Penn fastball right above the left elbow on Saturday night, but he’s back in the lineup — hitting in his usual No. 3 spot — and all he’s got is a sleeve on his left arm. 
“The big thing last night was just to get some ice on that thing fast,” Maddon said. “The swelling would be the big detriment today, but apparently he’s OK.”
Jason Bartlett is also in the lineup. Maddon said his off-day will come on Monday, when he faces Indians right-hander Fausto Carmona — who he’s 0-for-15 against lifetime.
* Pat Burrell (stiff neck) is going to fly in to Cleveland on Monday and will be re-evaluated to see if he’ll be ready to come off the disabled list on Tuesday. That will be a game-time decision. 
Tampa Bay
B.J. Upton, CF
Carl Crawford, LF
Longoria, 3B
Carlos Pena, 1B
Ben Zobrist, RF
Bartlett, SS
Akinori Iwamura, 2B
Dioner Navarro, C
James Shields, P
Emilio Bonifacio, 3B
Jeremy Hermida, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Ross Gload, 1B
Dan Uggla, 2B
John Baker, C
Cody Ross, CF
Chris Coghlan, LF
Josh Johnson, P
— Alden Gonzalez

Longoria leaves game early; fine afterward

MIAMI — Rays third baseman Evan Longoria left Saturday’s win against the Marlins in the top of the ninth after being hit by a pitch.

Against reliever Hayden Penn, Longoria took a 1-2, 89-mph fastball to the left elbow. The 23-year-old walked it off and, after being checked on by assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker, decided to remain in the game.
But Longoria, who had a big red mark right above the elbow, came out two batters later when rookie Reid Brignac pinch-ran for him while he was on third base.
After the game, manager Joe Maddon said it shouldn’t be a big deal and just felt it was going to be sore — “one of those good ol’ contusions,” is what he called it. Maddon said he wasn’t sure yet if Longoria would start Sunday’s game, but he doubted whether he would need X-rays.
“It hit me right on the meat, which is a good spot,” Longoria said. “It hurts. But in that situation right there, if the game is tight, I probably push to keep myself in the game and play defense in the ninth inning. But I had an opportunity to get out right there and just get ice on it, give it a chance to rest. It feels OK right now.”
— Alden Gonzalez

Pregame rumblings; lineups

MIAMI — Well, we’ve got good news here. The skies have cleared, the grass is dry, and baseball will not be a problem today — for now. Looks like we’ll start on time, too.

Just an ordinary Saturday game? I don’t think so. According to the Rays’ PR staff, the matchup between left-hander Sean West (6-foot-8) — just called up from Double-A to make his Major League debut — and Rays starter Jeff Niemann (6-foot-9) is the third-tallest matchup in Major League history (at a combined 161 inches). How ’bout that?
The Rays are changing up the lineup today, as Carlos Pena, Dioner Navarro and Akinori Iwamura are out. All three of them are simply off-days, with Tampa Bay is currently on a string of 20 straight days off. Pena said he was fine after getting hit on the right tricep Friday.
* Dale Thayer, the journeyman Minor League reliever who made his debut last night and got the three-inning save, kept his game ball, but he destroyed James Shields’ game bat. Thayer used Shields’ lumber and broke it while grounding out to first baseman/outfielder Ross Gload, who took the mound to save the bullpen.
* SIDE NOTE: In getting the save on Friday, Thayer became the first Ray to notch a save in his Major League debut. He was the first to do so since the Mariners’ Emiliano Fruto on May 14, 2006, against the Angels.
* Manager Joe Maddon said he exchanged text messages with Troy Percival, who’s back in California contemplating retirement, but nothing is new on that end.
* Maddon said it’s really tough to get a read on a guy like West, who’s never pitched in the big leagues and there isn’t much of a scouting report on: “From his perspective, I’m sure there’s always those nerves to be contended with, but I know he’s got a good arm, and you just don’t want him to get settled in and feel confident about the whole thing. … I’ve always believed that when you see a guy for the first time, you really make him earn his outs.”
* Chad Bradford (right elbow surgery) is on tap to pitch in his first Minor League rehab game for the Charlotte Stone Crabs tonight.
* Maddon’s contract extension likely will not be announced in this series.
* Scott Kazmir is back in St. Petersburg, Fla., to see assistant athletic trainer Nick Paparesta.
* With 15 runs on Friday, the Rays went into Saturday leading the Major Leagues in runs scored (249) for the first time this season.
Tampa Bay
B.J. Upton, CF
Carl Crawford, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Willy Aybar, 1B
Jason Bartlett, SS
Ben Zobrist, 2B
Gabe Kapler, RF
Michel Hernandez, C
Niemann, P
Emilio Bonifacio, 3B
Jeremy Hermida, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Jorge Cantu, 1B
Dan Uggla, 2B
Cody Ross, CF
Ronny Paulino, C
Chris Coghlan, LF
West, P
— Alden Gonzalez

Rays – Marlins Game 1 lineups

MIAMI — Yes, the Rays are still expected to play a game tonight. It’s been raining down here all week, but the skies look clear for now — phew! Gabe Gross is in the lineup today instead of last night’s hero, Ben Zobrist. Manager Joe Maddon said he liked the matchup with Gross and Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco better.

Tampa Bay
B.J. Upton, CF
Carl Crawford, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
Carlos Pena, 1B
Jason Bartlett, SS
Gross, RF
Akinori Iwamura, 2B
Dioner Navarro, C
Andy Sonnanstine, P
Emilio Bonifacio, 3B
Jeremy Hermida, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Jorge Cantu, 1B
John Baker, C
Dan Uggla, 2B
Cody Ross, CF
Chris Coghlan, LF
Nolasco, P
— Alden Gonzalez

Price could be the guy, Percival could be done

MIAMI — Busy day for the Rays as they get ready for the first of a three-game series against the Marlins.

First the saddening news: Right-hander Troy Percival, who was never able to get right this season after an injury-plagued 2008, was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of right shoulder tendinitis on Friday — but it could be much longer.
Vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Percival was really frustrated with the shoulder and has flown back to his Riverside, Calif., home. Percival, 40 on Aug. 9, will sit down with his family, see where he’s at physically and mentally, then decide whether or not to retire.
Manager Joe Maddon said he spoke to Percival after Thursday’s game and said he wouldn’t be surprised if the right-hander indeed took that route.
Also, left-hander Scott Kazmir was placed on the DL with a right quad strain. Kazmir’s injury is looked at to be a lot more short-term, though there is still no gauge as to when he would come back, and Friedman said it would probably be past the 15 days. The 25-year-old said his DL stint last year — when he missed 30 games because of a strained throwing elbow — caused him to tweak his delivery, and that in turn caused the quad problem.
He will continue to throw off flat ground and doesn’t believe it will keep him out too long.
Now the good news: With a hole in the starting rotation for Monday’s game, David Price is expected to make the start, though that hasn’t been officially announced. The 23-year-old lefty is 1-4 with a 3.93 ERA in his eight starts for the Durham Bulls.
— Alden Gonzalez

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