Friday, November 24, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Joe Maddon eager to discuss replay system

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PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays manager Joe Maddon is looking forward to hearing from MLB officials in a meeting today to go over details of the new expanded replay system.

"Of course I might have a curious question," Maddon said. "More than anything, see what they have to say, embrace it, be flexible about it, and see how it works. That's my stance."

His primary concern seems to be how MLB officials will adjust if problems occur.

"If I ask for anything, that it would be flexible," he said. "As you continue to work out the kinks, if something becomes obvious that it's not working, then to visit it at that time, not table it or revisit. It needs to be a living kind of an organism right now until, in fact, you feel pretty good about it."

Maddon said he has not studied the details and potential strategies of the process. Since the meeting will include managers and officials of four or five other teams that train nearby, he likely won't explore that much today.

Similarly, Maddon has held off from having his coaches work with catchers — or baserunners — on the expected changes to the home-plate collision rules until they get specifics. "I don't see what the rush is," he said.

PITCHING IN: The first day of pitchers throwing "live" batting practice was relatively quiet as many batters preferred just to "track" pitches, and those who swung didn't hit much.

LHP David Price — who skipped his last bullpen session — was among those who threw and said it went well, even with the 9 a.m. start. "I felt great," he said. "I kind of surprised myself how good I felt."

RHP Grant Balfour was not pleased with his work, saying fatigue might have been an issue. "I was nails in the bullpen, that was about as good as it's been," he said. "Then I went out on the friggin' field and it was about as bad as it's been. I think, honestly, it was two different guys."

Maddon toured the fields, noting that among those who impressed him were veteran newcomers Heath Bell ("he's very focused") and Erik Bedard, returnee Jake McGee ("lightning bolts") and candidates Jeff Beliveau, newly acquired Nathan Karns ("a really good arm, as advertised") and C.J. Riefenhauser ("the arm is that good"). "It was an interesting day," Maddon said.

MISCELLANY: The team estimated attendance at Saturday's Fan Fest at the Trop at 20,000 and said a good time was had by all. … 2B Ben Zobrist said his tight and sore lower back continues to feel better, and he expects to do increased activity today and start onfield work in a few days. … There was clubhouse talk of progress for the three players delayed by visa issues in the Dominican Republic: INF Wilson Betemit and RHPs Juan Carlos Oviedo and Juan Sandoval. … Player rep Matt Moore said Friday's meeting with new players union chief Tony Clark went well. … Maddon said there might be an intrasquad game on Wednesday.

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