SEATTLE — There aren't going to be any more bands in the Rays clubhouse this season.
No additional team excursions. No more animals running or slithering around their feet and, much to their dismay after Jeremy Hellickson suggested it, no monkey shagging balls in the outfield during batting practice.
After declaring Thursday night that his players were too tight and trying too hard, Rays manager Joe Maddon said Friday that he would not use any more novelty acts or gimmicks to get them to relax and loosen up.
"We've been kind of enacting those things," he said. "There's nothing left. The bag is empty."
Instead, he hopes they do it the old-fashioned way.
"It's just going to take a couple of good offensive nights," Maddon said. "Once you get that conga line moving with some line drives all over the place I think you'll see everybody pretty much re-hit their stride, no pun intended, at that point.
"I think it's going to take that. I don't think there is much else we can do to create a more relaxed atmosphere to just go play. I don't know what else we can do. It's definitely a bunch of guys that care a lot. And they're playing well; we're just not hitting well with runners on base. We're doing a great job of getting runners on base. So more than anything just loosen up and go hit. That's it. I still prefer at this time of the year less scouting, less video … less everything. Just go play."
There is definitely a cause-and-effect issue to Maddon's observation.
Third baseman Evan Longoria said he wasn't sure what "trying too hard" really meant and "I'd rather be trying hard than not trying at all."
Outfielder Sam Fuld said he thinks playing well can trump all the other variables.
For example, Fuld said the Rays couldn't have been looser than Aug. 30 in Oakland when closer Fernando Rodney got locked in the dugout bathroom during the game — "That was like we won 30 in a row," Fuld said — but they still got swept.
"I think you always kind of try and figure out the chicken and the egg," he said. "Like do you become loose when you play well, or does being loose make you play well? It's both. But I think if we went off and we happened to score a bunch of runs the next couple days we're going to be really loose. It's hard to determine which is more influential."
Maddon said his preference is the players are similarly relaxed every day no matter what the situation, and he tries to present it that way from his office.
"You just show up every day and from my perspective, this desk and this season, you've got to be consistent," he said. "And hopefully they will rally around that."
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.