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Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon considering changes in lineup

3

August

Rays manager Joe Maddon seemingly made all the right moves Monday.

He took advantage of the noon start to do something different with the lineup, with Jason Bartlett in leadoff spot, Willy Aybar at DH, and Michel Hernandez behind the plate.

And after all the moves paid off - Bartlett's three hits, Aybar's two homers, etc - Maddon said he will consider making changes in the leadoff spot and DH spot for Tuesday's game against the Red Sox - and potentially beyond.

"One of the things I've always wanted our players to get from this office is consistency," Maddon said. "And for them to feel as though whoever is sitting here is not jumping all over the place half hazardly, being a bandwagon kind of a manager. I don't believe in that stuff. I believe ...you set things up and you see them all the way through. There's always a certain limit to whatever that means in regard to seeing something through."

Maddon could make Bartlett the leadoff hitter; the shortstop said he enjoyed the role Monday and smiled when asked if he'd like it full time, “If that’s what (Maddon) wants to do, I’m more than happy to do that.” Bartlett is hitting .337 and has the second best on base percentage on the team (.387).

Maddon has showed a lot of faith and support for B.J. Upton, whom the Rays moved to the leadoff spot to start the season. Upton struggled early on, but later rewarded Maddon's faith by winning the AL Player of the Month in June. Upton (.244), however, has cooled off a bit, with his on base percentage falling to .317 and he has 114 strikeouts.

Upton is hitting .190 vs lefties, and the Rays face Red Sox lefty Jon Lester Tuesday.

Maddon has been equally as patient with Pat Burrell, the Rays biggest offseason acquisition (two years, $16 million) who has had a disappointing season (.226 average, with seven homers and 38 RBI, and 11 Ks this homestand). Maddon has said with Burrell's track record and work ethic, he's bound to get hot.

With what the Rays have invested in Burrell, it's been hard to see them keeping him on the bench. But the Rays also want to get Aybar in the lineup more, whether that's at DH on some days or filling in at third, second or first. He's hitting .282 now with 10 homers and 30 RBI in just 64 games (42 starts).

Maddon has shown he is willing to change things up a bit - moving Carlos Pena out of the cleanup spot recently - but if he does decide to switch things up again, it won't come without a lot of consideration.

"If I choose to make an adjustment, it has to be that I'm satisfied that all the other avenues have been explored."

- JOE SMITH

joesmith@sptimes.com

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:49am]

    

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