OF Matt Joyce and 1B Casey Kotchman didn't know each other growing up on opposite sides of the bridges, but they now share a rare bond. Of the 296 men who played for the Rays, they are two of only 11 who were born and raised in the Tampa Bay area.
Both Joyce, who grew up on the Tampa side, and Kotchman, from St. Pete, say playing at home is a lot different than playing anywhere else.
"It's a blessing and a curse," Joyce explained. "You get all the positives and the negatives that other players don't get to experience. You get your friends and family and more of a crowd that cheers for you and roots you on, but that same crowd that roots you on also expects more and asks for more out of you in performance, and more so the tickets and the gear — hats, shirts and jerseys and stuff."
Kotchman, in his 11th pro season, said "it's been a privilege" to play at home, citing such benefits as seeing his parents on a regular basis and getting to live in his same place year-round and noting how comfortable an arrangement it is.
"There's no adjustment that you're in a season," he said. "In some respects it doesn't even feel like I'm playing baseball right now outside of (being at the field). I've tried not to let it hit me. I'll see the dome as I approach it and it's still kinda strange."
Joyce said it took some getting used to — and may take some further adjustment. "You never really get away, it's weird," he said. "I didn't know what to expect going into the offseason last year, and I was surprised at how much I got recognized. It was really weird."
ESPN The Magazine named OF Matt Joyce the "Best Surprise in Baseball," which could be considered a compliment or an insult. … LHP David Price is tempting fate, moving to a large locker in the back of the clubhouse used this season by Manny Ramirez, Dan Johnson and Felipe Lopez and previously by Rocco Baldelli and Rafael Soriano. … Don't expect LHP Matt Moore, even after Thursday's no-hitter, a 4-3, 2.43 record and 103 Ks in 772/3 innings at Double-A Montgomery, to be promoted anytime soon. … Among tidbits about RHP Kyle Farnsworth in Sun Sports' Inside the Rays show that debuts after today's game: He competes with the Tampa Bay Damage professional paintball team. … Farm director Mitch Lukevics was included in the Boston Globe's list of 25 "very passionate baseball people." … 3B Evan Longoria and Joyce are among the Rays interested in skating with the Lightning. … Baseball operations director Dan Feinstein was with the A's during the Moneyball era but doesn't have a role in the soon-to-be-released movie. … LHP David Newmann, a 2007 fourth-round pick (with a $250,000 bonus), left Double-A Montgomery with plans to retire.
Got a minute? Joel Peralta
Must-see TV? Baseball Tonight, and I really like Everybody Loves Raymond.
Big-night-out meal? I like to go to a Japanese steakhouse.
Singer you'd most like to be on stage with? It's got to be Hector Acosta, a Dominican merengue and bachata star.
Worst job? I used to load blocks for construction on a truck and then drive around and deliver them.
With your wife's permission, dream date? I really like Kim Kardashian, or Eva Longoria.
11 home-grown Rays:
• Fred McGriff, 1B, Tampa/Jefferson HS
Rays seasons: 1998-2001
Stats: .291-99-359 in 577 games
• Lance Carter, RHP, Bradenton/Manatee HS
Rays seasons: 2002-05
Stats: 13-10, 3.92, 29 saves in 165 games
• Matt Joyce, OF, Tampa/Armwood HS
Rays seasons: 2009-11
Stats: .273-23-81 in 153 games
• Tino Martinez, 1B, Tampa/Jefferson HS
Rays season: 2004
Stats: .262-23-76 in 138 games
• Doug Waechter, RHP, St. Petersburg/Northeast HS
Rays seasons: 2003-06
Stats: 14-25, 5.62 in 60 games
• Casey Kotchman, 1B, St. Petersburg/Seminole HS
Rays season: 2011
Stats: .333-3-16 in 55 games
• Ozzie Timmons, OF, Tampa/Brandon HS
Rays season: 2000
Stats: .341-4-13 in 12 games
• Kevin Cash, C, Tampa/Gaither HS
Rays season: 2005
Stats: .161-2-2 in 13 games
• Jason Romano, INF, Tampa/Hillsborough
Rays season: 2004
Stats: .125-0-1 in four games
• Kenny Kelly, OF, Plant City/Tampa Catholic Rays season: 2000 Stats: .000-0-0 in two games
• Dwight Gooden, RHP, Tampa/ Hillsborough HS Rays season: 2000 Stats: 2-3, 6.63 in eight games
In what has been a streaky season, the Rays have had some hot ones:
Player G Avg. HR RBI Otherwise
Matt Joyce 26 .443 8 23 .230-2-11, 29 G
Casey Kotchman 29 .380 2 10 .276-1-6, 26 G
Sam Fuld 14 .397 1 8 .172-2-14 43 G
Ben Zobrist 16 .417 3 12 .216-6-24 53 G
(All stats through Friday)