Sunday, February 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays: Giant constrictor snake visits clubhouse

Rays vs. Blue Jays

When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 1250-AM, 97.9-FM (680-AM Spanish)

Tickets: $14-$210, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster, raysbaseball.com, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within 5 hours of game time.

Promotion: Rays welcome mat with Tampa Bay Times ticket tandem.

Probable pitchers

Rays: RH Jeremy Hellickson (10-6, 4.93)

Blue Jays: RH R.A. Dickey (9-11, 4.46)

On Hellickson: Hasn't made it through five innings in any of his past three starts and lost all three. Is 5-2 with a 2.74 ERA in 10 starts against Jays; 2-0, 2.52 this year.

On Dickey: Knuckleballer is 3-3 with a 3.99 ERA overall against Rays, and 2-1, 2.31 at the Trop, including a June 26 two-hit shutout. Overall has won only one of last seven starts.

Key matchups

Rays VS. Dickey

Matt Joyce 3-for-19, HR

James Loney 4-for-19

Luke Scott 1-for-13, HR

Ben Zobrist 2-for-16

Jays VS. HELLICKSON

Jose Bautista 8-for-21, 3 HR

E. Encarnacion 7-for-28, HR

Brett Lawrie 0-for-16

On deck

Saturday: vs. Blue Jays, 7:10, Sun Sports. Rays — Roberto Hernandez (6-12, 4.95); Blue Jays — J.A. Happ (2-2, 5.11)

Sunday: vs. Blue Jays, 1:40, Sun Sports. Rays — Chris Archer (6-5, 3.10); Blue Jays — Todd Redmond (1-1, 3.62)

Monday: at Orioles, 7:05, Sun Sports. Rays — David Price (6-5, 3.28; Orioles — Miguel Gonzalez (8-5, 3.84)

Tuesday: at Orioles, 7:05, Sun Sports. Rays — Alex Cobb (7-2, 2.94); Orioles — Chris Tillman (14-3, 3.70)

Marc Topkin. Times staff writer

Clubhouse constrictor

Manager Joe Maddon's latest attempt to keep the Rays from being too uptight was obvious: a 20-foot long, 115-pound reticulated python was writhing on the clubhouse floor. "We needed to loosen things up, and what better way to do that than a 20-foot python snake?" Maddon said. Several players were interested, such as closer Fernando Rodney and DH Luke Scott, who were eager to hold it. Others couldn't get far enough away, especially OF Desmond Jennings. "I don't do snakes," he said. Maddon said he found a connection in 2013 being the year of the snake in the Chinese calendar: "You find out that it's representative of risk-taking and creative thinking. … I thought it fit in perfectly with what we're trying to do around here." The snake, named Asia and brought in from Busch Gardens, joins a guest list that includes two penguins, a cockatoo, a magician, a DJ and a merengue band.

 
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