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Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon picks his All-Stars

ARLINGTON, Texas — Manager Joe Maddon admitted it wasn't easy and there were some "close calls," but he was comfortable with the American League All-Star roster he sent in by Saturday afternoon's deadline.

And Maddon said he was "satisfied" with the Rays representation.

The rosters will be announced today on TBS starting at 1.

"You know at the end you're not going to please everybody by any stretch of the imagination," said Maddon, who called four managers to get their input. "When you think about all the players, all the statistical information that's available, there are so many close calls. But you have to make that call."

ESPN analyst and Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, who will call tonight's Rays-Rangers game, said criticism comes with the territory of being an All-Star manager. But he said Maddon can manage a situation in which a Rays player who believes he is deserving is left off by simply explaining it to them.

That is unless LF Carl Crawford doesn't make it.

While 3B Evan Longoria was one of the top vote-getters and Jason Bartlett second among shortstops, Crawford ranked fifth among outfielders in the latest results of fan balloting released.

Crawford could have been voted in by the players or selected by Maddon. Either way, Morgan said, Crawford, a two-time All-Star in the midst of a career season, is deserving. Crawford entered Saturday fourth in the AL in hitting at .319 and first in the majors in steals with 40. Saturday, he extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a first-inning double.

"You'd have a hard time telling Carl Crawford he's not going," Morgan said. "He's stealing bases, hitting for average. What else can a guy do?"

FAMILIAR PLACE: RHP Matt Garza had two very memorable starts at Rangers Ballpark last season, a complete-game two-hitter and a rocky one that included a heated exchange with C Dioner Navarro.

"A good one and bad one," he said.

More important to Garza, he wants to continue the good things he has done in his past two starts, including attacking with his fastball and "going after guys." In those two outings, Garza is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA.

"I really believe he tries to get too creative sometimes. And I like it when he's more aggressive in the zone with his fastball," Maddon said. "And (he) attacks hitters early in the count because if he does that, he's like (James) Shields. He'll get a lot of quick outs with his fastball."

But no familiar face: With the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate being rained out Saturday, OF Josh Hamilton's rehab assignment for abdominal surgery has been extended. So the Rays won't see him in this series.

KEEPING COOL: The Rays skipped onfield batting practice Saturday and likely will again today, hitting in the indoor cages instead.

Part of it was to get a reprieve from the 100-degree temperature. But another factor is Maddon said he believes cagework can be more productive, at times.

The Rays have skipped onfield batting practice several times over the past couple of seasons. And with them leading the majors in runs, Maddon said, "The results have been pretty good so far.

"Sometimes, I like hitting inside better because if you come out here on a warm day in Texas with the wind blowing out, it turns into home run derby anyway, where it's more for show than actual functionality," Maddon said. "I like inside the tunnel with a confined area, where all you're trying to do is hit line drives where the ball came from."

MISCELLANY: INF Reid Brig­nac hit two home runs for Triple-A Durham on Friday. … Maddon will be a live guest on today's All-Star selection show. … INF Joe Dillon had his first at-bat in 10 games, striking out in the ninth.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon picks his All-Stars 07/04/09 [Last modified: Sunday, July 5, 2009 7:50am]
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