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Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon wants Carlos Peña not to worry about batting average

OAKLAND, Calif. — Manager Joe Maddon is into all kinds of numbers. But he had a talk with 1B Carlos Peña and told him to ignore the big one that gets flashed on the scoreboard each time he steps to the plate: his batting average.

Maddon's premise is that Peña would have a higher average than his .196 (after an 0-for-4 Friday) if he weren't constantly facing a strong defensive shift that stymies him when he pulls balls to right.

"Against a normal defense, he's probably hitting pretty decently right now," Maddon said. "Against the abnormal defense, he hits into a lot of outs that normally would have been hits. I don't want him to evaluate himself by his batting average; I'd prefer he deal more with an evaluation of the at-bats, the hard contact, those kind of issues.

"If he just looks at his batting average, he's never going to be satisfied and he's going to think he's doing less than he actually is."

Peña said the best he could do is try, and he makes an effort to look at his overall contributions each day.

"In general I can," he said, "but there's no doubt about it, I don't want my batting average there."

As much as he has tried to make adjustments to "beat" the shift by not "rolling over" and pulling ground balls, Peña admits there are days when it beats him.

"There's days when things aren't feeling so right and you have some bad swings and you hit a ball poorly, but because you have a little hole there and it goes through and you're like, 'Yea, I just got a hit,' " Peña said. "I don't have that luxury."

DIFFERENT APPROACH: RHP Wade Davis felt like he was pitching from behind the whole time in his April 27 start against the A's, and a video review confirmed it as he threw a first-pitch strike only seven times over five innings.

So when he faces them again today, he plans to be more aggressive from the start. "I think if I can get them on their heels a little bit and get them going, it will be a little different," Davis said.

NO MINOR MATTER: Class A Bowling Green RHP Shane Dyer realized there really wasn't anything else he could do.

He'd thrown seven innings of no-hit ball against Fort Wayne on Thursday night, but he'd also thrown 96 pitches. And with the Rays maintaining a strict organization pitch limit at that level, he knew he wasn't going to get to throw any more.

So it wasn't a surprise when he was taken out, and he sat on the bench and watched as reliever Kirby Yates kept the no-hitter going until there were two outs in the ninth and, after not getting a call on a 1-and-2 pitch that the Hot Rods felt he should have, gave up a single before completing the 1-0 win.

Dyer, 22, a sixth-round pick in 2008, said he'd thought often about how he'd handle that type of situation.

"I always pondered what I'd say or what I'd do, but I took the high road," Dyer said Friday by phone. "It's organization policy, and I'm not one to challenge that. It was bittersweet, but in the end we got the W, and that's what ultimately mattered."

Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics, who happened to be at the game, said the minor-league coaches can use "reasonable discretion" on exceeding a pitch count, but "our staff will always err on the side of caution, and our long-term goal is always more important than our short-term goals."

Dyer said he threw three no-hitters in high school, though each in seven-inning games. "It's a good standard," he said.

MISCELLANY: Peña remains tied with Fred McGriff for the franchise walk record of 305. … 3B Evan Longoria's 12-game hitting streak ended Friday. He went 0-for-1 with three walks. … Peña will likely get a day off during the Anaheim series, Maddon said.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon wants Carlos Peña not to worry about batting average 05/07/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 8, 2010 7:09am]
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