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Manager Joe Maddon tells Tampa Bay Rays to use high expectations as fuel in annual spring address

Manager Joe Maddon tells all 59 players in camp that they should be motivated by the high expectations facing the team.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Manager Joe Maddon tells all 59 players in camp that they should be motivated by the high expectations facing the team.

PORT CHARLOTTE — Manager Joe Maddon had run into most of the Rays infielders and outfielders during the past week when pitchers and catchers were working out. But seeing all 59 players together in front of him Sunday morning during his speech prior to the first full-squad workout was still a meaningful moment.

"I've been kind of poring over that mentally and on paper and then you do see them out there, it's kind of nice," Maddon said. "There's a variety of talent, and a lot of it speaks to youthful athleticism. … That's what really smacks me when I look out at our players."

The primary topic of Maddon's address, as expected, was dealing with the raised expectations for the team.

"We need to utilize the expectations as fuel regarding what we're doing," Maddon said. "Don't run away from it. I believe as a group we have humble baseball players here. I believe humility is a real strong human quality. But I don't think that false humility is.

"So you don't go out there and just deny things or push back because you consider it superstitious, even though I'm just a little -stitious. You have to be concerned about that kind of thing — when you really don't admit to and you're always making excuses, I think that actually takes away. I like the idea that people feel that way about us."

Maddon also talked to the players about not getting complacent.

"You naturally have the ability to get a little complacent when people expect you to go out there and succeed, and that was the main message," OF Sam Fuld said. "I think that's an important one, and I don't think he needs to say it any more. I think we're all aware of it."

MOORE SLOWED: Rookie LHP Matt Moore "probably won't" throw his scheduled batting practice session today, pitching coach Jim Hickey said, a "precautionary" move due to some lower abdomen discomfort.

The Rays expect Moore to return to the mound Wednesday, and if so he will only be two days behind going into the exhibition schedule, which begins Saturday.

RHPs Brandon Gomes (back surgery) and Kyle Farnsworth (workload) are also on a slower-paced schedule.

SWING TIME: DH Luke Scott felt "a little bit off" during Sunday's batting practice session, which he attributed to not having a chance to loosen his surgically repaired right shoulder before swinging.

Scott said he wasn't concerned or surprised but that he would change his schedule starting today to make sure he had more time to warm up. Overall, he said he remains "a little bit ahead of schedule" in his recovery from the July 26 labrum repair and fully expects to be ready opening day.

Maddon said the Rays expect the same, but said Scott's availability and schedule for the exhibition season hadn't been determined. "In the beginning I just want him to go slowly and we'll figure that out," Maddon said.

MISCELLANY: Maddon mentioned LHP Alex Torres and RHPs Burke Badenhop and Josh Lueke as standing out during the live batting practice sessions. … Several hitters just took pitches rather than swing, though Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez did hit homers. … 1B Juan Miranda was the last of the 59 players to report.

Manager Joe Maddon tells Tampa Bay Rays to use high expectations as fuel in annual spring address 02/26/12 [Last modified: Sunday, February 26, 2012 7:16pm]
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