So much goes into getting someone to the big leagues. There's often a story of an above-and-beyond youth league or school coach, a driven scout, a dedicated father or older brother. But on this day, we want to salute the contributions of the mothers, with these anecdotes of how Mom helped some Rays (as well as some reporters) get where they are today:
Jose Molina | Mom: Gladys
"She was pretty much everything, period. She kept us in school, out of trouble and at the ballpark. She raised three kids (Jose, Bengie and Yadier, all of whom have played in the majors) while my dad was working. He taught us how to play the game. But the one who was in the house, disciplining us, that was her, and she did a great job. She always was in the stands, taking care of us, making sure we got to the ballpark. Every time, 100 percent, she's the biggest fan, and still is at this point. Our bond got even tighter when my dad passed away (5½ years ago). She's still the No. 1 fan. She has her TV and an iPad for all the games."
Joe Maddon | Mom: Beanie
"She's meant a lot. And it's really personified in one moment: when I wanted to go home from Lafayette (College) after the first week of school and be a plumber like my dad and she said, 'You're not coming back.' That was it, end of debate. And I went back to doing what I was doing (playing baseball and football), and it got to the point where she had to say, 'When are you coming home?' So it was that one moment. She could have easily caved and said, 'That's okay, honey, come on home, you can do whatever you want,' blah, blah, blah. But she said, 'No, you're not,' and that was the end of the discussion. And my dad never knew about it. … She was very hard. My dad would get involved when I would do something to her; she took care of everything else. I was very afraid of Beanie, in a good way."
James Loney | Mom: Ann
"She threw to me when I was, like, 4 or 5, and I hit a ball off her leg. And then she stopped throwing to me after that. She enjoyed doing stuff like that with me. She played basketball (in college), so we played basketball together sometimes, too."
Ben Zobrist | Mom: Cindi
"My mom was, like, my biggest fan growing up, for sure. She's always probably been even more emotionally involved in what I'm doing than I am, as far as the ups and downs. She feels it whether she's at the game or watching on TV. She's into the game. I'd say I get some of my competitive nature from my mom, too. Even though she's a sweet pastor's wife, she was athletic when she was younger and she has that competitive, wanting-to-win streak in her."
David Price | Mom: Debbie
"She helped me in every way possible — just being there for me, being there at all my games, being supportive, making sure I stay on top of my school, everything. I couldn't ask for anything more from parents, especially my mom. We played catch a couple times before I started throwing too hard."
Evan Longoria | Mom: Ellie
"My mom, most importantly, was always my ride to and from games and practice. I can remember her rolling me ground balls in the front yard, playing catch with me, playing sock ball in the back yard, all those things that definitely helped me get where I am today."
Sean Rodriguez | Mom: Maricela
"She's probably been my No. 1 motivational speaker, just constantly throwing positive reinforcement my way, constantly reminding me it's a game, just have some fun, not let it overwhelm me. As I much as I didn't want to look at it that way, she was always there to remind me what was bigger and better in life."
Chris Archer | Mom: Donna
"She's the type of person to see the best in everybody. That allowed me to see the best in myself … in a genuine way, not like, 'You're the best 'cause you're my son,' but, 'As long as you do your best, you are the best,' that type of thing."
Desmond Jennings | Mom: Paulette
"I wouldn't be where I'm at today without her. I don't even know if I'd be playing ball without her. My mom was on her way to church when I was like 5, 6 years old and just signed me up to play ball. I didn't even know it. And she's been my biggest supporter through it all. I definitely wouldn't be here without her."
David DeJesus | Mom: Victoria
"Three boys playing sports (including brothers Heryk and Mike), she had to do a lot. We had the big station wagon. She'd be toting us around. And she had to sacrifice a lot, always going to some practice, taking us somewhere. And then when we got older, we'd want the car, and she had to sacrifice then, too."
• The lack of a left-handed hitter on the bench has become a bigger issue than the Rays acknowledged it would be. Given how little OF Brandon Guyer has been used and INF Logan Forsythe has contributed, wouldn't it make sense to drop one and either promote switch-hitting INF Wilson Betemit (left), who has a .331 OBP and seven homers at Triple-A Durham (and a July 1 out clause) or find someone similar?
• Durham RHP Steve Geltz last week became the 15th Rays player to be suspended for drug reasons since the start of 2012, most in baseball during that span. (The Mets were next at 10.) Though concerning, there is no reason to consider it an organizational failure, but there seems to be a need for increased education — and maybe some stronger words.
• Still waiting for Duke Energy to explain the mythical lightning strike that supposedly caused the Tuesday Tropicana Field power outage. Maybe the next rate increase covers better weather data collection?
Part of why Rays games seem to be taking so long: They have the two slowest-working starters in the majors (Chris Archer, David Price) and four of the seven slowest relievers (Joel Peralta, a staggering 34.7 seconds between pitches, per fangraphs.com; Josh Lueke; Grant Balfour; Brandon Gomes). … In striking out the side on nine pitches with the bases loaded against the Orioles on Thursday, RHP Brad Boxberger wasn't the only Ray to notch an apparent major-league first this season: There is no record of a previous 3-9 putout, as the Rays recorded May 2 in New York when Wil Myers played first in a five-man infield alignment. … Joe Maddon was 30th in Joe Posnanski's hardballtalk.com ranking of managers as players. "Funny, he's pretty clearly the worst player," Posnanski wrote, "but I think he's also the best manager. So maybe there's something to that." … Myers' May 4 inside-the-park homer took 16.58 seconds, third slowest since the always informative tatertrottracker.com started compiling data in 2010. … Archer is the guest for the next Tampa Bay Times Lunchtime Live interview May 23.
Got a minute? Brad Boxberger
Food you hate?
Any type of seafood. Not into it.
I can wiggle my ears. That's kind of cool; not everyone can do that.
Go-to karaoke song?
Friends in Low Places.
Best meal you can make?
I make a pretty good tri-tip. My dad's got a pretty solid recipe he gave me.