In reviewing the Rays' stunning move last fall to bring up minor-league OF Kevin Kiermaier for Game 163 and the American League wild-card contest, manager Joe Maddon said last week that it really was a matter of trust. The same with the similarly surprising decision to start rookie LHP Matt Moore in the 2011 AL Division Series opener.
It was trust that Maddon had in the front office, and trust those execs had in the minor-league staff, that the players were ready and able, given the potential for second-guessing and criticism had either move backfired.
Executive vice president Andrew Friedman says it illustrates the cohesiveness of, and the relationships within, the baseball operations department, how "everyone is approaching it with the purest of intentions" and all are "singularly focused on having as much success as we can collectively."
The framework allows bold decisions, and Friedman said the foundation for that comes from principal owner Stuart Sternberg.
"Stu challenges us to be bold," Friedman said. "He creates the environment and atmosphere to not play it safe. Human nature would dictate that there is always less downside when you take fewer risks. But with that, there's less upside. So one of Stu's biggest talking points is trying to challenge us to be as bold as we can be with thoughtful conviction behind it."
RADIO HEADS: Congrats to Rays broadcasters Andy Freed and Dave Wills for starting their 10th season in the radio booth together Saturday, a milestone even more notable given only three teams have been together longer: the Tigers' Dan Dickerson and Jim Price, 12th season; the Orioles' Joe Angel and Fred Manfra, 11th, and the Giants' Dave Flemming and Jon Miller, 11th.
RAYS RUMBLINGS: The Rays are pegged for an AL East-high 88.5 wins by the Bovada online gambling site. … Seattle scouts have been around watching young Rays pitchers, but the market for INF Nick Franklin may be stronger elsewhere. … From the way the starters are set up for the spring, the rotation order after ace David Price is Alex Cobb, Moore, Chris Archer and No. 5 to be named. … SS Hak-Ju Lee's return to game action Friday from a gruesome April 2013 knee injury was a just reward for the extensive work by minor-league medical staffers Joe Benge, Joel Smith and Trung Cao. … A Maddon brainstorm under consideration: Having the Dan Hartman song Instant Replay on the stadium PA system when umps are doing a review. … ESPN's Buster Olney figures the Rays have the AL's third-toughest early season schedule. … Peter Gammons predicted on MSNBC the Rays will beat the Dodgers in the World Series. … Retired former Rays OF Fernando Perez was in camp last week talking to team personnel about the 2008 AL Championship Series for a potential writing project. … Coaches Tom Foley and Dave Martinez, plus ex-Ray Cliff Floyd, are mentioned in the new Jonah Keri book on the Expos, Up, Up and Away. … The billboard of Maddon flexing his bicep to push ticket flex packs is the first of a campaign that also will feature players.