Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Maddon rejects rules for dress, facial hair

PORT CHARLOTTE

The Yankees have, as David Price regretfully addressed last week, a no-facial hair policy. Other teams ban earrings or don't want to see tattoos. Some have dress codes requiring collared shirts, slacks, even sport coats or jackets for travel.

And then there are the Rays.

Manager Joe Maddon flaunts their virtually no-rules atmosphere, saying, "When it comes down to attempting to coax or elicit discipline from forced behavior, I'm not into that whatsoever. I am not."

And he believes it is a big part of their success.

"I'm not saying I'm right, this is just according to our perspective and view, but I want David to worry more about working with the trainers and the weight-conditioning guy and (pitching coach Jim) Hickey when he walks in the door," Maddon said. "I don't want his mind to be encumbered by a bunch of nonsense. I prefer that our guys show up, and if they show up and they're comfortable and they can just walk in that door and be themselves, we're going to get the best possible baseball player, I believe."

Critics say the lack of rules could lead to problems. Maddon disagrees.

"I believe in the concept that the more freedom we give you, the more respect and discipline we're going to get in return," he said. "And to say that I'm going to make you wear a tie and you're going to be a better baseball player, I think is nonsense."

THE BIG O: TV pre- and postgame analyst Orestes Destrade, who just signed a new two-year deal with Fox, is back home prepping for the season (and recovering from the flu) after being part of a Fox-organized goodwill tour to a U.S. Army base in Germany.

Destrade, part of a group that included Tampa Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, said they worked out with the troops at 6 a.m., visited schools and played a little ball. "The trip was outstanding," he said. "I really didn't know what to expect. It was a great experience. I was very proud and honored to be part of it."

RAYS RUMBLINGS: RHP Jeff Niemann could be a trade candidate if the team gets to the end of the spring with all its starters healthy, and ESPN's Buster Olney identified the Rockies as the first of what will be several teams keeping tabs. … Five Rays made Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list, with OF Wil Myers fourth, RHP Chris Archer 36th (and voted best slider), RHP Taylor Guerrieri 62nd, SS Hak-Ju Lee 90th, RHP Jake Odorizzi 92nd. … The Bovada online gambling site has the Rays at 25-1 to win the World Series and 12-1 to get there, with an over/under of 86.5 wins. … Maddon said the early plan is for 3B Evan Lon­goria to play "150-ish" games. … Former Ray Doug Waechter will do a half-dozen spring games on mlb.com radio with Neil Solondz. … Among the items on Maddon's desk is a bobblehead of new coach Jamie Nelson from his days managing rookie-level Princeton. … Sounds like Sun Sports will replace Laura McKeeman, who handled some in-game reports for home games before leaving for a Fox gig based in San Diego.

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