Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)


Manager Maddon cautious when talking of Rays' improvements

A MEMORABLE MONTH: One of the stars of the Rays’ best April ever was starter James Shields, who set a club record for the month with a 2.54 ERA.


A MEMORABLE MONTH: One of the stars of the Rays’ best April ever was starter James Shields, who set a club record for the month with a 2.54 ERA.

BALTIMORE — The Rays just finished their best April ever. Now manager Joe Maddon wants to see what they can do in May. And June. And so on.

Maddon has been pleased with the attitude and the performance, especially given the slew of injuries, but in breaking down the team's play into specific thirds of the game — offense, defense and pitching — is a bit more circumspect.

In short, he thinks that they've played pretty good defense, is curious to see if they can keep pitching so well and expects them to hit better and score more.

The defense, he said, "is really radically different in a good way" and can be a constant. "You look at our defenders and you know with normal work on a regular basis they're going to look like that nearly every day."

With an impressive 3.67 ERA that ranks third best in the league, Maddon said: "Pitching-wise, are we over our skis? I don't know. Are we pitching to our level of capabilities now? I don't know. That's going to be tested over a period of time and we'll find that out. … I want to see if we can maintain somewhere near this level of competence."

And he expects the offense, which ranks in the middle of the league with 4.81 runs a game, to get better. "We really haven't arrived at our peak yet,'' he said.

Among specific accomplishments, the team 3.74 ERA (excluding the March 31 opener) is the best for any month, RHP James Shields' ERA of 2.54 is the best for a Ray through April, Carl Crawford scored an April record 24 runs and B.J. Upton is the first Ray to have a second April of 20 or more RBIs.

WHAT'S UP WITH THAT: Carlos Pena didn't know what to think when O's reliever Dennis Sarfate started yelling at him during an eighth-inning at-bat, so Pena yelled back. When he found out later from teammates that Sarfate accused him of peeking at the catcher's signs, Pena said it was "totally ridiculous" and Sarfate was "just making things up in his mind.''

Sarfate refused to explain, and O's catcher Ramon Hernandez said he didn't know what the issue was since he hadn't even put down a sign at the time.

HAPPY BOSS: While repeating his spring training pledge that the Rays would consider making in-season acquisitions if needed, principal owner Stuart Sternberg said he is quite satisfied with the pieces the Rays have.

"I think if the guys play up to their capabilities — and a lot of them are, some of them are obviously playing above and are playing a bit below — the talent is there, the cohesiveness is certainly there, which is nice to see, and they're poised to win a bunch of ballgames," he said.

Though mindful of the calendar, Sternberg also said he felt the Rays were closing the gap on the AL East heavyweight Red Sox and Yankees.

"We haven't been in sniffing distance of it before, and I think we're probably in the ballpark now," he said. "I'm not saying we're sitting in the box seats and can really touch it and feel it, but we're in the ballpark."

PITCHING IN: RHP Al Reyes will pitch one inning in an extended spring training game today, but how he feels Friday will determine when he rejoins the Rays. Under one scenario he would meet the team in Boston and be activated on Saturday; in another he would throw again in extended spring on Friday, to be sure he can handle back-to-back duty, and not rejoin the Rays until after Monday's off day.

Also, LHP Scott Kazmir threw freely and looked "real good" during a bullpen session Wednesday in preparation for his Sunday season debut.

HUFF DADDY: Ex-Ray Aubrey Huff is sticking to his story that there is no secret to his remarkable success against the Rays: a .333 average (30-for-90), nine HRs and 20 RBIs in 24 games. "Total coincidence," he said. "I don't know what's going on."

MISCELLANY: DH Cliff Floyd has been sick, which could delay for a day or two his participation in extended spring games as he starts his rehab following right knee surgery. … Gametime temperature was 62, and went down. … The Rays continue to garner national attention, with reporters from Fox Sports, the New York Times and USA Today on hand Wednesday.

Manager Maddon cautious when talking of Rays' improvements 04/30/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 1, 2008 5:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too lengthy. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes …

    Associated Press
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    You wonder if the scouting reports and/or workload are catching up to rookie RHP Jake Faria. The bottom line wasn't bad again, three runs in 51/3 innings, but he's having to work harder to get there.

  3. Rays journal: Chris Archer eager for eventful final stretch

    The Heater

    TORONTO — RHP Chris Archer takes the mound today for the Rays as they head into the final 40 games of the season with little margin for error as they battle for an American League playoff spot.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) takes a moment on the mound in the second inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 6, 2017.
  4. Tim Tebow's slump continues, as does fan support


    CLEARWATER — On July 29, playing against the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Tim Tebow smacked a mammoth three-run homer, helping the St. Lucie Mets cruise to a 10-3 victory at Charlotte Sports Park.

    St. Lucie’s Tim Tebow, shown Monday at Spectrum Field, struggled at the plate Wednesday against the Threshers.
  5. Rays at Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m. Thursday

    The Heater

    Today: at Blue Jays

    4:07, Rogers Centre, Toronto

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Chris Archer (8-7, 3.84)

    JAYS: RH Chris Rowley (1-0, 1.69)