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Zimmer's death hits Rays hard

ST. PETERSBURG — As word of Don Zimmer's passing spread among the Rays during and after Wednesday's game, many talked about what they would miss most about the baseball icon who had been an adviser the past 11 years.

For manager Joe Maddon, it will be a bag of hot dogs and pearls of wisdom.

"I'm totally going to miss his advice," Maddon said, tearing up at his office desk. "He used to come in here a lot of times prior to the games, bring me that little bag of Coney Island hot dogs and we'd sit here and talk about what was going on. He is sorely missed at this moment. When the team is struggling like this, I would always sic him on a couple guys, and he always had some great advice."

Maddon was told of Zimmer's passing midway through the game and shared the news with his coaches but waited until after the game to tell the players.

Two of the Rays' star players said they relished their conversations with Zimmer about his storied past, such as playing with Jackie Robinson.

"All the questions you couldn't ask anyone else, he had the answers for because he'd been through it," pitcher David Price said. "The stuff you heard from Zim lasted a long time."

Evan Longoria said he would carry on with advice from Zimmer:

"I know that he would want us to continue on and just kind of honor him by doing all of the things that he preached to us: playing the game the right way, playing the game hard, going out there on a daily basis and really caring about this organization."

Third-base coach Tom Foley, who was especially close with Zimmer and wore his No. 66 jersey in tribute, said the loss is significant.

"He had a lot of stories. He had a lot of history. He had a lot of knowledge," Foley said. "He had a lot to give. He had a lot to offer and he did.

"And I'm going to miss him yelling at me."

Zimmer's death hits Rays hard 06/04/14 [Last modified: Thursday, June 5, 2014 9:20am]
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