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World Series Tampa Bay Rays: Maddon skeptical of explanation of Blanton's cap stain

PHILADELPHIA — Manager Joe Maddon heard Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton's explanation that the curious dark splotch on the bill of his cap during Game 4 was "just dirt from the ball."

And, the day after raising the issue, Maddon said he wasn't buying it.

"Umm, I don't think so," Maddon said Monday. "That's very unusual. How many guys have that mark on their hat?"

Maddon was measured in his actions Sunday, pointing out the spot to home-plate umpire Tom Hallion but refraining from making any accusations or asking Hallion to check Blanton for illegal substances.

Hallion, according to MLB officials, also would have had the option of checking Blanton himself. Hallion told Maddon he would keep an eye on Blanton as well as the balls and would take further action if he felt it was appropriate. "Tom didn't detect anything as far as action on the baseball or any substance on the baseball," said Mike Port, MLB vice president, umpiring.

Maddon was cleverly cautious again Monday, stopping short of saying Blanton was doing anything wrong or that his pitches were doing anything different.

"I couldn't tell that," Maddon said. "I do know that if you do do that, you could gain an advantage on a breaking ball or a changeup or whatever just based on grip.

"Not necessarily that it would do something different, but it provides a better comfort level for the pitcher throwing the ball. He's better able to manipulate or permit his pitches to do what he wants them to do by having that substance on his fingers, not that it was sailing or sinking or whatever."

Maddon defended his actions, pointing out that his comments were made public only because of a Fox TV microphone and that he addressed it in his postgame media session only after he was asked about it.

"I'm just going up there to tell him what we think," he said. "I did not make an issue out of it, I did not make a big stink. From the Rays' perspective, I was just trying to make people aware. And, I thought, in a very professional way."

BIG ZEROES: Evan Longoria is the first rookie to go hitless through more than 16 at-bats. According to Elias, Flea Clifton of the Tigers went 0-for-16 in the 1935 Series. Longoria snapped the 0-for-17 skid with an RBI single in the fourth inning.

YOUNG GUNS: The Rays were the first team in more than 50 years to have four Series starters all under age 27: Scott Kazmir (24), James Shields (26), Matt Garza (24) and Andy Sonnanstine (25). The last time was 1955, according to Elias, when the starting quartets for the Dodgers and the Yankees were all that young. For the Dodgers, it was Roger Craig (25), Billy Loes (25), Johnny Podres (23) and Karl Spooner (24). For the Yankees: Whitey Ford (26), Bob Grim (25), Don Larsen (26) and Bob Turley (25).

CLIFF'S CALL: Assuming an MRI exam this week confirms the initial diagnosis of a slightly torn labrum in his right shoulder, veteran DH Cliff Floyd will try to rehab. If surgery is required, Floyd, 35, said he will retire.

"If I have any more surgeries, my career's a wrap," Floyd said. "If it's something I can rehab from, we'll see what happens."

The Rays hold a $3-million option on Floyd.

FAMILY AFFAIR: Rays family members were not treated as rudely at Citizens Bank Park in Game 4 after complaints were made about the Game 3 situation. "I didn't hear as much negativity about it," Maddon said. "It still wasn't really good but at least there was nothing thrown at people (Sunday) night."

MISCELLANY: Carl Crawford was moved into the No. 2 spot — where he hit 83 times during the season — in an attempt to boost the lineup, with B.J. Upton, Carlos Pena and Longoria all moving down a spot. … Maddon said he had no plans to call a pregame team meeting but would have his usual individual conversations: "Just keep doing what we're doing; go work the crowd."

World Series Tampa Bay Rays: Maddon skeptical of explanation of Blanton's cap stain 10/27/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 7:36pm]
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