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Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon says hitting coach Derek Shelton not to blame for struggles

ST. PETERSBURG — The seasonlong offensive woes that have left the Rays in their precarious position can be traced to several causes, manager Joe Maddon said.

But the work of hitting coach Derek Shelton is not among them.

"I don't believe it's a reflection on him whatsoever," Maddon said Wednesday. "I really don't.

"I'm in there every day, I know what he does, I know how he does it. You watch the games being played. The thing about coaches, it's about how diligent you are, the time you put in, how much you care. You can only give a player so much information. … A coach might be able to tweak you here or there a little bit or remind you about something, but what goes on internally is really what controls your success. And it's hard to really pin that on a coach."

Asked if he expected Shelton to return next season, Maddon said they will have their usual conversations after this season. "I'm not going to go there right now," he said.

LEANING LEFT: One of the most encouraging signs for the Rays in Wednesday's 13-3 rout of the Red Sox was the performance of struggling lefty hitters Carlos Peña, Luke Scott and Matt Joyce, who were a combined 5-for-8 with six walks and six RBIs. Peña's three RBIs were his most since June 24, and his homer his first at the Trop since July 17.

"It was kind of fun to see that happen,'' Maddon said. "If we can keep them engaged and swinging the bat like that down the stretch, we can do some interesting stuff.''

PRICE CHECK: LHP David Price makes the first of three remaining starts tonight, needing two wins to be the first Ray to 20, which he said wasn't a goal but would be both "very cool" and "pretty special." He said he hadn't looked at enough stats — his or anyone else's — to address his Cy Young Award chances beyond hoping to be a candidate.

NOT-SO-MINOR MATTERS: The Rays were already impressed by RHP Chris Archer, who, before taking the mound Wednesday, was named their minor-league pitcher of the year after going 7-6, 3.66 at Triple-A Durham.

OF Todd Glaesmann, who was named their top player, hopes he gets a chance in the near future after leading all Rays minor-leaguers with 21 homers, splitting the season between Class A Bowling Green and Charlotte, and hitting .285 with 75 RBIs. Glaesmann, who had hit only eight homers total in three pro seasons after being a 2009 third-round pick, said his success was the result of a more relaxed attitude and an improved approach.

The Rays named MVPs for each minor-league team: Triple-A Durham, OF/1B Leslie Anderson; Double-A Montgomery, RHP Alex Colome; advanced Class A Charlotte, SS Derek Dietrich; Class A Bowling Green, OF Drew Vettleson; short-season A Hudson Valley, RHP Jeff Ames; rookie-level Princeton, LHP Blake Snell; GCL Rays, INF Ben Kline; Dominican Summer League, 3B Alexander Simon; Venezuelan Summer League, OF Jose Paez.

The Rays also named OF Kevin Kiermaier their best defensive player, SS Hak-Ju Lee best baserunner, RHP Chris Rearick best reliever and RHP Joe Cruz winner of the Erik Walker Community Champion Award, which recognizes a player "who exemplifies teamwork, sportsmanship and community involvement."

MEDICAL MATTERS: Evan Longoria was back at third base for the first time since Sunday. … OF Sam Fuld remains idled by a right hamstring strain.

MISCELLANY: The Red Sox notched their first losing season since 1997. … C Jose Molina had his first bunt hit since April 2007. … Tonight is Star Trek night at the Trop, with fans encouraged to dress in Trek gear. There is also a pet food drive to assist the Pet Pal Animal Shelter. … Sun Sports' new Inside the Rays show, profiling TV host Todd Kalas, airs at 2 p.m. today and after Friday's game. … The Sept. 29 game at Chicago was moved up to a 4:05 p.m. start for a broadcast on Fox (Ch. 13).

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon says hitting coach Derek Shelton not to blame for struggles 09/19/12 [Last modified: Thursday, September 20, 2012 12:39am]
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