PORT CHARLOTTE — There's a reason a lot of what Joe Maddon is saying this spring sounds familiar. In an effort to get back to the success the Rays had in 2008, Maddon is going back to a number of the themes that worked.
That's why you hear him talking about wanting to recapture their aggressive nature, of having regular in-season sessions on fundamentals, of wanting his guys to play just as hard in March games as they will in May, of getting more work done during the spring.
"I approached last year the way I thought we should approach last year," Maddon said. "And after it concluded, I'm thinking about it and I'm realizing that a lot of the little things did get away from us. I felt as though we covered them appropriately, maybe I just did not present them or emphasize them in the right way. So anything we did not do right last year to me was my fault in regards to all that stuff.
"So for me, coming into this camp, how do we get back to the World Series? I've talked about the beginning (of the season) and dominating (games) late. And I talked about the little things and the fine line between winning and losing. So how do we pick up those 10 or 12 or 13 games we missed last year? For me, it comes down to that: the attention to detail has to be greater than maybe it was last year — unknowingly. You think you are, but maybe you weren't. So I just wanted to raise the level of that this year."
UPTON UPDATE: Justin Upton's six-year, $51.25 million contract with Arizona shouldn't, in theory, have any impact on the chances of the Rays and B.J. Upton doing a long-term deal. But starting in 2011, Justin will average nearly $10 million a year, and you have to think B.J., like anyone, is going to want to make more than his younger brother.
RAYS RUMBLINGS: Bringing Rocco Baldelli back to the organization was a good move, and with even a slim chance he'll return to action, doing so without using a roster spot was even better. … Though Pat Burrell wears No. 5, Baldelli will get his old number back when on assignment working with the organization's young outfielders: "It's a minor-league 5." … Noted analyst Bill James ranks 3B Evan Longoria No. 7 among the "most valuable properties" of young talent behind Felix Hernandez, Prince Fielder, Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Pablo Sandoval and Tim Lincecum. … If the Rays are going to do spring games on what amounts to Internet radio, why wouldn't they use regular radio announcers Andy Freed and Dave Wills? … After seeing Andrew Friedman first on SI.com's ranking of the game's GMs, ahead of the Yankees' Brian Cashman and the Red Sox's Theo Epstein, here's a question: How would it look if Friedman had the team with the $170 million or $200 million payroll, and Epstein and Cashman had to try to compete with $60 million or $70 million? … The Rays reportedly made a $2 million offer to Cuban 1B Jose Julio Ruiz. … According to Don Zimmer, who has seen a lot, this has been the coldest spring since 1955. … After spending last season as the Rays' quality assurance coach, Todd Greene is with Seattle scouting the Rays and other teams.