Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' greatest non-baseball feats

Running a marathon — such as the kind-of-a-big-deal one they have in Boston on Monday — is a tremendous individual accomplishment, a test of body and mind over 26.2 miles. And with the Rays in town for the race for the third time in four years, it is a subject of conversation, and admiration for the runners who do it. • "It would be interesting to run a marathon," 3B Evan Longoria said. "I think it would be quite an accomplishment. I definitely have a respect for athletes that can do that because it's not something I would say I could do." • LHP Matt Moore, whose dad is a marathoner, thinks he could, but it would have to be mind over matter. "I don't think there's anything physically holding me back from doing that," Moore said, "but I know there's a mental block that kicks in for me around 8 miles, for some reason." • Other Rays know better than to even consider it: • "I don't even want to see if I could do that," RHP Jeremy Hellickson said. • With that as the framework, we polled some Rays on what is their greatest non-baseball athletic achievement:

Ben Zobrist

At 12 years old, Zobrist made a hole-in-one on a 140-yard hole with a pond at the Quail Meadows course in Illinois. "It was incredible. Incredibly lucky, but incredible," Zobrist said, still excited in the retelling. "I didn't even hit it well; I bladed it with a 6-iron. I was like, 'Get over the water!' and it hit the edge, it shot up on the green and rolled. like. 50 feet and in. My dad was there, and this older guy, who'd been playing golf all his life, and he was like, 'You've got to be kidding me.' "

David Price

Winning the amateur part of November's PGA Tour Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Disney was impressive, but Price is more excited about a shot he made in a high school basketball tournament game. Down two to then No. 1-ranked Columbia with seconds left, his Blackman (Tenn.) team ran a play to free him on the wing. He pump-faked his defender and let it fly. "It was a crazy shot. It didn't hit any rim, it didn't bank, it went straight in." But as usual with Price, there is more to the story: "I actually thought we were down by three, so I was pumped because I thought we were going to overtime. So I was running over to our bench and I saw the entire team and the whole student section running at me. I didn't know what was going on till I looked back up and saw that we won by one."

Jeremy Hellickson

In an Iowa sub-state basketball playoff game for Des Moines Hoover vs. Ankeny in his sophomore season, Hellickson showed his poise. "There's five seconds left, we were tied, they were inbounding, I stole the pass, went in for a layup and got fouled," Hellickson said. "So with no time on the clock (and no other players on the court), I hit the free throw to send us to state."

Desmond Jennings

A good enough prep football player to be recruited by Alabama, Jennings had a couple of standout games as a QB for Pinson Valley High: One with 505 yards total offense, another with six rushing touchdowns.

Joe Maddon

"Broad Street Joe," as he was known around Hazleton, Pa., capped his college football career, as the QB for the Lafayette freshman team, with a bang: 14 for 17 passing, including 13 straight completions, and four TDs. "I remember driving back in my little Volvo, music blaring, thinking how cool that was," Maddon said. "But I could really envision baseball season coming."

Evan Longoria

With so much focus on baseball, he hasn't had time for much else. Last year, he, girlfriend Jaime Edmondson and a buddy did a 30-mile bike ride. "That was pretty cool," he said. The farthest he has run? "Home to home?" he joked. "Not any further than a couple miles."

Matt Moore

Playing basketball for Moriarty (N.M.) High at an assembly game in front of the whole school, Moore launched a shot from the opposite free-throw line that banked in at the buzzer. The only problem? His team was winning by 10. "My coach was pretty heated at me," Moore said. "But it felt like a game-winning shot how crazy everybody went."

Sam Fuld

He played basketball, hockey and soccer as a kid, but his crowning moment came on the track, where he set the Exeter Academy (N.H.) freshman records for the 50-yard dash (5.6 seconds, which was broken) and 55 meters (6.4, which he still co-holds).

Among others …

Alex Cobb quarterbacked Vero Beach High to an upset of then No. 1-ranked Palm Beach Gardens. … Cesar Ramos shot 74 on the Griffith Park golf course in L.A. … 3B coach Tom Foley played QB left-handed then, after separating his shoulder, right-handed, in the same game for Miami's Palmetto High. … Kyle Farnsworth earned a black belt in taekwondo. … Kelly Johnson "set the elementary school record for the shuttle run and the mile" at Austin, Texas' North Oaks school.

Rays rumblings

Former OF Gabe Kapler has been hired by the team in a consulting role, reporting to executive VP Andrew Friedman. Kapler said he eventually would like to get back on the field. Coach? Manager? … Interesting timing that principal owner Stuart Sternberg will be the featured guest, along with manager Joe Maddon, at the April 23 Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce luncheon. … Sternberg, meanwhile, was appointed chairman of MLB's Diversity Oversight Committee and was named to the new On-Field Diversity Task Force that is to address the lack of African-Americans in the game. … Top prospect OF Wil Myers needed to spend only 12 days in the minors (which he reached Thursday) for his free agency to be delayed until after his seventh season because he isn't on the 40-man roster and thus hasn't been optioned. … Wade Boggs, whose No. 12 was retired by the Rays, told the Boston Globe he wants the Red Sox, whose cap he wore into the Hall of Fame, to retire his No. 26. … RHP Jeff Niemann, out for at least 12 months after shoulder surgery, remains under the Rays' control, and arbitration eligible, in 2014. Expect him to be signed back early in the offseason, for much less than the $3 million he makes this year, or non-tendered. … Former Ray, and tremendous guy, Cliff Floyd was hired as an MLB Network analyst, debuting at 8 Monday night.

Got a minute? RHP Jamey Wright

Best meal you can make? We have a wood-fired pizza oven, so I can make a good pizza, pretty much whatever kind you want.

Favorite movie? Goodfellas.

Band you'd like to be on stage with? Pearl Jam. I'm a big fan.

Must-see TV? With three kids, it's usually on Nickelodeon Jr. or something like that.

Dream vacation? Bora Bora.

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