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Tampa Bay Rays starter Wade Davis excited to make critical start at Yankee Stadium

NEW YORK — RHP Wade Davis is well aware of all the potential pitfalls of pitching in Yankee Stadium.

And he couldn't be more excited about tonight's opportunity.

"Going into that stadium in the position we're in right now, that we have to win, I'm excited," Davis said. "It's going to be an awesome experience."

Davis has pitched twice at the new Yankee Stadium, a win May 19, 2010, and an appearance Sept. 22, 2010, cut short due to a lengthy rain delay. He said he feels very comfortable there despite the inhospitable setting.

"I love it," he said. "The mound, the way the clay feels, the atmosphere, the height of the stadium, the amount of pressure, the people there, the team you're going up against. It's a challenge, but it's a whole other experience."

Davis hasn't faced the Yankees this season, which could work to his advantage. Overall, he is 2-1, 3.81 in four starts.

"I've always had a decent feel for them," he said. "I know they're good, you have to show up, you have to work the count. They're going to hit mistakes, so if you can limit most of those and minimize the walks, you've got a better chance."

DAY OF REST: DH Johnny Damon was among the Rays wishing they had a game Monday so they could keep riding the momentum of taking three of four from the Red Sox.

But manager Joe Maddon felt the day off would do them good. "There's been a lot of emotion spent," he said. "It goes beyond physical — you get emotionally tired. I think the day off can help recharge us mentally as well."

NO ZO: 2B/RF Ben Zobrist is expected to miss tonight's game and rejoin the team for Wednesday's doubleheader, having returned home Sunday night to be with his wife, Julianna, for the induced-labor birth of their daughter, Kruse.

HIP-HIP: Maddon on Monday did a series of interviews to launch the Hazleton Integration Project, a program to create dialogue to unify the Hispanic and Anglo communities in his Pennsylvania hometown, drawing a parallel to when European families, such as his own, settled there in past generations.

"When I went home last Christmas, it was very obvious that's not what was happening," Maddon said. "If we don't utilize this group of Hispanic people who want to be in our community, if we don't utilize them and their abilities to the fullest, our town is eventually going to die and go away. These people want to be there. They're wonderful people, and they're just exactly like we were back in the day."

Maddon will host a series of awareness- and fundraising events in December, including a celebrity-waiter dinner and memorabilia auction and a showing of It's a Wonderful Life with Spanish subtitles, seeking to establish a community center to serve as a base for youth sports and adult education classes.

MISCELLANY: The Rays will have to decide soon who will make the Saturday start — rookie LHPs Matt Moore and Alex Torres appear the top choices — so they can hold that pitcher back from relief work. … The Yankees series was originally scheduled as two games, but two rainouts are being made up: July 8 on Thursday night and Aug. 14 as the second half of Wednesday's day-night doubleheader. … INF Sean Rodriguez extended his team record number of hit by pitches to 16.

Tampa Bay Rays starter Wade Davis excited to make critical start at Yankee Stadium 09/19/11 [Last modified: Monday, September 19, 2011 9:04pm]
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