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Rule changed on ball hitting Tropicana Field's A-ring and B-ring

Setup man: Todd Anderson, production manager with Sign Now Tampa Bay of Largo, works to finish hanging an MLB postseason sign on the rightfield wall at Tropicana Field. The company added two wall signs plus playoff logos in the dugouts and other areas.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Setup man: Todd Anderson, production manager with Sign Now Tampa Bay of Largo, works to finish hanging an MLB postseason sign on the rightfield wall at Tropicana Field. The company added two wall signs plus playoff logos in the dugouts and other areas.

ST. PETERSBURG — What goes up and hits one of the two highest catwalks at Tropicana Field may still come down.

But it will be a dead ball.

Under a rule change sought by the Rays and approved by Major League Baseball, balls that strike either of the highest two catwalks (known as the A- and B-rings), or any of the lights, masts, objects and related riggings, now will be ruled dead and the pitch won't count.

"Those two rings are going to be a do-over," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "If it hits those, the pitch never happened, and we do it all over again."

The change goes into effect immediately for the playoffs and will remain in place next season.

"Good," Rangers OF Josh Hamilton said. "It's about time."

Under the previous rules, a ball that got stuck in those catwalks was a double and a ball that hit and came down was in play and judged fair or foul by where it hit or was touched by a fielder.

While that didn't happen often — just 27 times over 13 seasons — it can be confusing, and infuriating, when it does. The Rays lost an Aug. 5 game to the Twins when a Jason Kubel ball struck the catwalk and dropped in.

Balls that strike the two lower catwalks in fair territory will continue to be ruled home runs.

LONGO A GO: 3B Evan Longoria went through an extensive workout Monday showing no signs of concern over his previously strained left quad, and Maddon pronounced him fit for Wednesday's opener.

"He's fine," Maddon said. "He's ready to roll."

Longoria, who hasn't played since Sept. 23, first took swings off hitting coach Derek Shelton, took ground balls at third, ran the bases "intermittently" then stepped in against reliever Mike Ekstrom for his first live pitching in 11 days.

"The first slider he saw he hit over the State Farm sign (in left-center)," Maddon said. "He had really good at-bats. He looked very good at the plate, very alive. His mechanics looked good; he was not jumpy.

"He came through hitting, fielding, running and throwing very well."

Maddon said Longoria will go through a similar workout on a smaller scale today and will be in the lineup at third base Wednesday.

PRICE REPORT: LHP David Price was voted the AL pitcher of the month for his 4-0, 1.67 performance in September, just the second Ray to win such an award. LHP Scott Kazmir won in May 2008.

THREE 'WISE' MEN: In World Series predictions by TBS analysts John Smoltz, Cal Ripken and Ron Darling, the Rays are picked to get to the final round twice. Smoltz has them losing to the Phillies, while Ripken has them beating the Phillies. Darling took the Phillies to beat the Twins.

WORDS OF ADVICE: Darling, who played in New York, had some advice for Longoria and Price in regard to their recent comments about the small crowds.

"We're talking about an area where the unemployment rate is 3-4 percent higher than the rest of the country," Darling said. "You've got to be very careful when you're making mega millions of dollars when you're questioning people and where they spend your money."

TV TIME: The Sun Sports crew is sidelined during the postseason as TBS (and later Fox) has the games, but there's no rest for Todd Kalas. He and Brian Anderson will host — though from a Houston studio — a one-hour postgame show after each playoff game. Orestes Destrade will provide coverage from the stadiums.

MISCELLANY: Outside of Longoria and a few pitchers who came in to throw, the rest of the Rays had Monday off. The full squad will work out today. … Gates will open 2½ hours before first pitch for Games 1 and 2, and the parking lots 5½ hours for tailgating (which Wednesday would be 8:07 a.m.).

Fast facts

Of pomp and circumstance

• Longtime Rays executives R.J. Harrison (scouting director) and Mitch Lukevics (minor-league operations) will throw out the Game 1 first pitches.

• Jazz musician Les Sabler and area vocalist Marshall Gillon will perform the national anthem for Game 1.

• Gov. Charlie Crist will handle Game 2 duties, his fifth starting assignment at the Trop.

• A commemorative scorecard will be sold for $3.

Rule changed on ball hitting Tropicana Field's A-ring and B-ring 10/04/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 12:11am]

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