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Tampa Bay Rays: Don Zimmer hears about his bear; George Hendrick saves pitchers; Joe Maddon gives James Shields a gift from Barcelona's La Sagrada Familia

Zim Bear fallout of the day

Senior adviser Don Zimmer has heard from all corners about the Zim Bear giveaway item, saying it "went viral" — as if the admittedly ignorant Zimmer knew what that was. "(Tigers manager) Jimmy Leyland and his coaches called this morning, and he said, 'Now, I've seen it all,' " Zimmer said. Son Tom said, "The phone has been ringing off the hook. The Rays better get a heck of a lot more than 10,000 of them."

Drill of the day

At least one group of pitchers coming off the mound to field bouncing bunts wore out first-base coach George Hendrick, who was manning the base, with their erratic throws. "We owe him because he made us look good," LHP J.P. Howell said. "He cleaned up the mess."

Different strokes

The first Chico/Caddyshack golf "event," held at the nearby Kingsway course, was won by the team of third-base coach Tom Foley, executive vice president Andrew Friedman, athletic trainer Mark Vinson and home clubhouse/equipment manager Chris Westmoreland. "It was a total team effort in spite of Westy,'' Friedman said. "He's seeking aggressive sports psychology assistance from Greg Riddoch (the team's mental skills coach).''

Who is this Ray?

He is a two-time winner of the team's spring talent show known for his impressions. He was the Rays' 2011 minor-league player of the year. He plays first base, leftfield and catcher and once filled in for an injured umpire.

The dish

Today's workout for pitchers and catchers starts at about 9:30 a.m. at the Charlotte Sports Park (2300 El Jobean Road) and lasts three hours. Admission and parking are free. Driving time from the bay area is 1½-2 hours. Suggested route: I-75 South to Toledo Blade Road, go west 6½ miles to El Jobean Road (SR 776), go right 2 miles, stadium complex is on the left. For more information, call (941) 235-5025.


Among those set for bullpen sessions today are LHPs Matt Moore and David Price and RHPs Wade Davis and James Shields. The "action" starts about 10:05.

Key dates

Saturday: Position players report

Sunday: First full squad workout

March 3: Exhibition opener vs. Twins in Fort Myers

April 6: Season opener vs. Yankees at Tropicana Field

Who is this answer: Stephen Vogt

Marc Topkin, Times staff writer

Gift of the day

With an assist from 1B Carlos Peña, manager Joe Maddon brought a gift from Spain for RHP James Shields: a plaque of a cryptogram on the facade of Barcelona's La Sagrada Familia cathedral. Peña told Maddon to check it out. Maddon figured it out quickly — all columns add up to 33 — and had to get one for Shields because that's his uniform number. "One of the coolest gifts I've ever gotten," Shields said. "That's pretty special. I'm going to hang it in my locker."

Tampa Bay Rays: Don Zimmer hears about his bear; George Hendrick saves pitchers; Joe Maddon gives James Shields a gift from Barcelona's La Sagrada Familia 02/23/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 24, 2012 4:15pm]
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