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Manager Joe Maddon wants Tampa Bay Rays to arrive later for home games

ST. PETERSBURG — Unafraid to be unconventional, manager Joe Maddon on Saturday implemented radical changes to the Rays' pregame routine for at least the remainder of this homestand, cancelling batting practice and barring the players from showing up too early for night games.

His strategy is multipronged. The main ideas are to better simulate the routine on the road, where the Rays have had more success offensively; to reduce the overall workload in hopes of having the players fresher and less susceptible to injuries; and to eliminate the unproductive, "lazy" extra time they spend at the stadium. Rather than noon, the home clubhouse now won't open until 3 p.m.

"I want them to come later," Maddon said. "Have a life, take their wives or their girlfriends out to lunch, mess with the kids, and then come here at a more decent hour and then play a game of baseball."

Players will still have time for extra work and to hit in the batting cages, Maddon said, and the Rays used the additional time Saturday to take a full infield practice, which is rare anymore, and will do so again Wednesday.

"This time of year I want freshness mentally and physically, and this is my attempt to gain that moving forward," Maddon said. "I want them fresh and ready to go at 7:10, not 3:10."

On the road, players typically show up later, some on the team bus that leaves the hotel at 4 p.m., and have shorter pregame workouts. And with the Rays hitting .254 and averaging 4.95 runs a game on the road and, going into Saturday, hitting .231 and averaging 3.5 at home, Maddon wanted to try it that way.

"Look at what we've done at home offensively to this point, so let's see if this doesn't shake things up a bit," he said.

The change will be disruptive to some of the Rays' more routine-oriented players. "I don't know what we have going," 3B Evan Longoria said. "I've got to try to find a routine that's a little bit different that I've had going." He claimed, however, that he arrived at 1:30 Saturday: "I'll find my way in."

Maddon has long railed against the importance of on-field batting practice and said it remains "the most overrated component" of the game.

SCORING UPDATE: Official scorer Bill Mathews said he gave no further thought to changing B.J. Upton's fifth-inning hit Friday to an error on 3B Adam Kennedy and wouldn't have even had it had remained the Rays' only hit off Seattle's Felix Hernandez. (They got five more in the eighth.)

"Yeah, it was a tough call," Mathews said. "Somebody's got to make the call, and that's why I sit here. It's no fun sitting there and waiting for that hit to come. I thought about it; I relived that play. I'm a college coach (at Eckerd). I relived that play over and over and over. I feel good with the decision."

Maddon reiterated Saturday he believed it definitely was an error and acknowledged he was wondering what would happen if the Rays were blanked the rest of the way. "That would have been controversial," he said. "Until we got the second hit, I was thinking, 'Man, this could get weird.' "

Mathews did change a call from the seventh inning Friday, awarding Rays 1B Casey Kotchman a single and taking away Kennedy's error.

MEDICAL MATTERS: OF Sam Fuld had a 9 a.m. appointment Saturday with dentist Dr. Jeff Scott to have a new temporary crown put in and will get the permanent one Wednesday. … OF Justin Ruggiano (left knee bursitis) joined Triple-A Durham to work out but is not ready to start a rehab assignment, Maddon said. … C Jose Lobaton (left knee sprain) said he is finally feeling better and could resume playing in about a week.

MISCELLANY: The Rays notched their 12th shutout, tying the team record (2008, 2010). … Fuld will sign autographs from 12 to 12:30 today. … RHP James Shields said the chance to pitch today on a regular five-day schedule was more important than whether he faced the Mariners or Detroit ace Justin Verlander on Monday. … Todd Kalas is in the TV booth this weekend, with regular analyst Brian Anderson scheduled off. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson is 3-0, 0.81 vs. Seattle.

Manager Joe Maddon wants Tampa Bay Rays to arrive later for home games 08/20/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 20, 2011 11:57pm]
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