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SPRING TRAINING

Tampa Bay Rays: Maddon's classic ride dry, Johnson's return to T-ball spot

Smart move of the day

Though manager Joe Maddon drove his 1972 Chevy Malibu convertible with the top down from Port Charlotte to Sarasota on Sunday, he said it was safely in the garage by the time all the storms hit Monday. "That was perfect timing with the rain the way it is," Maddon said. "It's in the garage; it's all good right now, so it worked out well."

A first at first

Before playing two innings at first base Saturday, utilityman Elliot Johnson said he hadn't played there since T-ball, when he was 5. Johnson makes his first start there today, saying it'll be an adjustment but he's open to play wherever the Rays put him. That makes seven positions for Johnson this camp. "It's part of my job description," he said, smiling. Johnson said he got a first baseman's glove last spring, and infield coach Tom Foley put him through his own "First Base 101" workout recently.

Time to get happy

The Rays will host happy hour before all home games this season. It will take place two hours before the start of each home game and include entertainment, live music and $3 Budweiser and Bud Light specials in Centerfield Street. Fans should enter at the Gate 1 rotunda.

Did you know?

The Rays boast the best record in the Grapefruit League over the past four years (since 2008): 67-46 (.593)

Who is this Ray?

At 6 feet 9, he matches LHP Mark Hendrickson as the tallest player in Rays history. But he didn't play high school basketball; he tried out for the Lanier Middle School basketball team but was beaten out by Emeka Okafor, now center for the New Orleans Hornets.

Rays at Red Sox

When/where: 1:05 today; City of Palms Park, 2201 Edison Ave., Fort Myers

Tickets: $10-$46, available at stadium box office, as well as via redsox.com or by phone at 1-888-733-7696.

Radio: Raysbaseball.com audio

Rays information: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297 (FAN-RAYS)

Pitchers: Rays — Wade Davis, Cesar Ramos, Juan Cruz, Joel Peralta; Red Sox — Clay Buchholz, Tim Wakefield, Alfredo Aceves

On deck

Wednesday: vs Blue Jays (Tropicana Field), 4:10. Rays — Jeff Niemann; Blue Jays — Jo-Jo Reyes

Heads-up

Utility man Elliot Johnson will make his first career start at first base. Sean Rodriguez is scheduled to play third, with Reid Brignac, Dan Johnson, John Jaso and Matt Joyce all on the trip.

Who is this Ray answer: RHP Jeff Niemann

Joe Smith, Times staff writer

Tampa Bay Rays: Maddon's classic ride dry, Johnson's return to T-ball spot 03/28/11 [Last modified: Monday, March 28, 2011 9:46pm]
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