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Tampa Bay Rays' James Shields to alter routine

BALTIMORE — RHP James Shields is going to try a few things differently today.

Confounded as much as anyone over his lack of success on the road compared with Tropicana Field, he's going to come to Camden Yards a half-hour earlier, get ready a little sooner, maybe sit in the hot tub for a while and try a few other things as if he were pitching at home. His between-starts work is pretty standard, so he's looking more closely at his day-of-game routine.

"There's no doubt about it. I want to do better on the road," Shields said. "I'm not going to sit here and beat my brains over it. It's one of those things where I'm going to try to focus in a little harder and try to get a better routine on the road."

With reason, given a severe discrepancy in his career numbers:

At home: 20-8, 3.23 ERA.

On the road: 12-17, 4.89 ERA.

Manager Joe Maddon wasn't sure Shields needed to do that much differently.

"I believe there's just a comfort zone in pitching at home. I don't know that it's so much the routine," Maddon said. "When a guy's as structured as he is and as organized as he is and does his work as diligently as he does, I don't know why a change in routine is going to necessarily help.

"I just think as he becomes more experienced pitching away from home, it's going to get better — period."

SECOND FIDDLE: Ben Zobrist has been impressive enough in the outfield — and has shown enough power— that Maddon said he could eventually become a corner outfielder.

And though Maddon values Zobrist's versatility to play seven positions, he said another possibility would be as a regular second baseman.

"That's not impossible either," he said.

And an interesting idea because the Rays would need a second baseman if they don't pick up Akinori Iwamura's 2010 option, which is at least $4.25 million.

GREENE NAMED: Quality assurance coach Todd Greene didn't say much after being one of four players featured in a New York Times story exploring "how pervasive steroids were in baseball from 2000 to 2004."

According to the report, Greene in 2001 contacted an anti-aging doctor, Ramon Scruggs, who has since been indicted on charges of writing prescriptions for steroids and human growth hormone. The report, based on accounts written by federal agents, said Greene said he contacted the doctor because "he felt he was at a critical point in his career and, being married and having two kids, he was concerned that he would not be able to make a living playing baseball."

Greene, who retired in 2007 and just joined the Rays, said he couldn't discuss details "because it's an ongoing investigation.''

Asked if he wanted to clarify if he received or used steroids, Greene said: "This was eight or nine years ago. I'm worried about my job with the Rays. I'm 100 percent dedicated to doing what I can to help this organization get back to where they were at last year. It's not about me. It's about me doing my job for the Rays now.''

PRICE CHECK: Indicative of how cautiously he will be handled, LHP David Price was limited to 74 pitches and 32/3 innings in his season debut at Triple-A Durham. Price allowed four hits, including a two-run homer by Orioles prospect Nolan Reimold, walked two and struck out four. … In other minor matters, Class A Bowling Green was no-hit by three Hickory pitchers in the first of two seven-inning games and went into the third of the nightcap before Jeremy Beckham singled.

UPTON UPDATE: Maddon said all B.J. Upton had to do was get through Saturday's final rehab game for Class A Charlotte without getting hurt then get safely to Tropicana Field for Monday's home opener and he'd be batting leadoff and playing centerfield. Upton went 3-for-4 with a walk and two stolen bases. When Upton returns, OF Matt Joyce is expected to be sent to Durham.

MISCELLANY: LHP Scott Kaz­mir received a warning letter from MLB and orders not to wear his custom Nike cleats because there was too much blue and not enough black and not use his tan or gray gloves because they were too light. … The Rays hadn't lost a series to the O's since Aug. 3-5, 2007, going 7-0-1 since. … C Shawn Riggans makes his second start today.

Tampa Bay Rays' James Shields to alter routine 04/11/09 [Last modified: Sunday, April 12, 2009 7:30am]

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