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Tampa Bay Rays news and notes: Texas Rangers adjusting to lights at Trop; Rays excited about sellout crowd; family of Lee Roy Selmon to throw out first pitch

The Rangers held a workout Sunday at Tropicana Field, with some continuing to get acclimated to the quirks and lights under the dome's roof. Texas OF Josh Hamilton said a key difference is that, at the Trop, "this is one of those places you can't take your eye off the ball and run to a spot and try to pick it up again, you've got to watch it the whole way." Hamilton found one little trick is how he positions the bill of his cap halfway up his forehead. "If you let the lights shine in your eyes the whole time, it's easier to see the ball once it's hit up than if you were not looking in the lights and then you look up in the lights and the dome the same time," Hamilton said. "Then it's tougher."



Quote of the day

"They deserve a lot of credit for that. When you consider the last offseason, they were written off for dead basically. They lost (Carl Crawford), they lost (Carlos Peña), (Matt) Garza gets traded, they lose their closer and setup man. They had a lot of good players left, and to their credit they battled, fought back and here they are."

Rangers INF Michael Young on how impressive it is that the Rays are in the playoffs for the third time in four years while playing in the AL East.

Good luck charm

. Saxophonist B.K. Jackson, who was a fixture performing the national anthem during the Rays 2008 World Series run, will do the honors tonight. "He's good," CF B.J. Upton said. "Looking forward to it."

Giving back

. Rays manager Joe Maddon will host Thanksmas for the sixth consecutive year, Dec. 12-14 at the Salvation Army Shelters in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Bradenton. As he does for every Thanksmas, Maddon will prepare a traditional Italian/Polish holiday feast for hundreds of needy citizens in the Tampa Bay region. A new website, joesthanksmas.com, has been created. The stops will be a fundraiser at 717 South in Tampa (Dec. 9), at Sallie House in St. Petersburg (Dec. 12), Bradenton Salvation Army in St. Petersburg (Dec. 13) and Tampa Salvation Army (Dec. 14).

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com

With the Rays gearing up for their first sellout at Tropicana Field since opening day, players were buzzing. "I was just telling some of the younger guys, they're going to see the 'Real Trop' and how it can really get," reliever J.P. Howell said. "This is what it's known for here (tonight)." It will be the Rays' 12th consecutive playoff sellout, dating to their 2008 World Series run. While Tampa Bay ranked 28th in the majors in attendance this season (1,529,188, the team's lowest since 2007), 3B Evan Longoria said "we play better when this place is full." The record speaks for itself, he says, as Tampa Bay is 45-21 when it gets 30,000 or more fans. "It's huge," Howell said. "It puts us on the other end of the stick. We're used to going into another place and it's a great crowd and unbelievable, but coming here can be pretty rough for the opponents, when they get the (cowbells). The more bells the better." Longoria pointed out how much the Rangers' sellout crowd helped them in Saturday's game, sparking their five-run fourth-inning rally after falling behind 3-0. "That was fantastic," manager Joe Maddon said. "The crowd there, the enthusiasm, the white towel." But Maddon said the Trop can be rocked, too. "We like when the place is packed," Maddon said. "It should be a home-court advantage, because it is loud in there. It is to the point where (bench coach Dave Martinez) and I have to scream to one another and we are standing next to each other at the same time. But it's great, it's fun. And I really believe the people in our area are enjoying it and shall continue to enjoy it."



American League Division Series | Game 3, 5:07 tonight, St. Petersburg TV/radio: TBS; 970-AM, 1040-AM

Heavy hearts

Some special guests will throw out tonight's first pitch: Lee Roy, Christopher and Brandy Selmon, the children of the late Lee Roy Selmon. Selmon, a Bucs legend, Pro Football Hall of Famer and former USF athletic director, died Sept. 4 after suffering a stroke. The Rays honored Selmon with a moment of silence in their next home game, including a video tribute for his contributions to the community.

Tampa Bay Rays news and notes: Texas Rangers adjusting to lights at Trop; Rays excited about sellout crowd; family of Lee Roy Selmon to throw out first pitch 10/02/11 [Last modified: Sunday, October 2, 2011 8:36pm]
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