Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Maddon continues to keep Rays clubhouse loose

ST. PETERSBURG — So a DJ, a magician and a cockatoo all go into the Rays clubhouse …

Only this is not a joke.

Oh, it's funny. Entertaining. And certainly, to put it politely, unconventional. But it's all part of manager Joe Maddon's way of getting the Rays to relax, to not take the game too seriously, and, in theory, to play better.

So that's why they had the DJ dropping beats Saturday, the magician doing tricks Sunday, the bird in hand (well, Maddon's hand) Tuesday, and big plans today, Maddon saying only that it was "another member of the animal kingdom.''

"Just another little diversion," Maddon said. "We'll probably back off on the next homestand for a bit. But for right now, just to lighten things up a bit for this week, and so far, it's been pretty good.

"A lot of times, it gets confused when things aren't going well. It's not because your guys aren't working hard enough or don't care enough. Sometimes, it's just not working. So let's go and take the other road less traveled, which would be the one with birds in your clubhouse."

Maddon, who said he has always wanted a bird, got comfortable enough to have Mindy — an umbrella cockatoo borrowed from Sunken Gardens and accompanied by owner P.J. Murray — perch on his shoulder.

Some players came over to get a closer look, others weren't interested. But Maddon's point was clear.

"He gets it," said 18-year big-league veteran RHP Jamey Wright. "It's good stuff. He's no dummy. There's a method to his madness. He knows what he's doing."

Which gets back to diversionary tactics.

"You get so wrapped up in playing baseball," OF Matt Joyce said. "And when you show up at the field every day, anything you can do to take your mind off the game and all the failure that surrounds the game is definitely a welcome change of the mind-set."

REHAB REPORT: DH Luke Scott went 1-for-4 with an RBI single in the first game of his rehab assignment for advanced Class A Charlotte, having been sidelined since March 23 with a right calf strain.

Scott is scheduled to be off tonight then play through the weekend, with the possibility of another day off, for the Stone Crabs and be re-evaluated after Sunday's game. How he feels will also dictate whether he is limited to DH or plays first base and/or the outfield.

The Rays leave after tonight's game for a 10-game trip to Chicago, Kansas City and Colorado, and Scott expects to join them somewhere along the way.

Maddon said it would "be important" to have the ability to use Scott in the field for the DH-less series with the Rockies, but it is not a prerequisite. "It really comes down to how he feels in general," Maddon said. "Yes, you'd like him to be able to play the field. If not, I don't think that precludes him from coming to visit us if, overall, everything is pretty good."

LONGO'S RUN: With his ninth-inning homer, 3B Evan Longoria has reached base in each of the Rays' first 20 games and 34 straight overall.

MISCELLANY: Ben Zobrist passed Carl Crawford as the team's all-time leader with his 36th sac fly. … The Rays were 9-0 when leading after seven innings, and the Yankees were 0-8 when trailing. … RHP Mariano Rivera allowed a homer for only the fifth time in his past 103 save opportunities. … 2B Ryan Roberts has been doing well hitting second, but Maddon said he expects the No. 2 spot to be fluid going forward. … Top OF prospect Wil Myers was 2-for-4 to increase his average for Triple-A Durham to .317 and has reached base in all 16 of his games. … Manager Charlie Montoyo is expected to rejoin the Bulls soon, his 5-year-old son, Alex, doing well after heart surgery, according to Durham GM Mike Birling.

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