Tag:Joe Maddon
Posted on: October 26, 2008 8:02 pm

Hinske in, Floyd out for Rays

PHILADELPHIA -- Tampa Bay removed outfielder/designated hitter Cliff Floyd from its roster and added Eric Hinske before Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday night.

Floyd hurt his shoulder diving back into the base in the fourth inning of Game 2 and it's been bothering him ever since.

"It was kind of a concern to us last night (in Game 2)," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We had it all checked out, and thus he's not able to participate. So we've had Eric with us for awhile. Eric has been working first base, third base, left field, right field and pinch-hitter."

Hinske was on the Rays' divisional series roster against the Chicago White Sox, but they removed him for the American League Championship Series against Boston when they went with an extra pitcher and one less bench player.

"He did a great job for us this year," Maddon said. "Look at his numbers -- 20 homers, I think he had 10 stolen bases, played a variety of positions defensively for us."

Hinske hit .247 with 20 homers and 60 RBI for the Rays this season. They added both him and Floyd before the season in hopes that their veteran experience would help the younger players grow and mature. The moves worked wonders.

"We hate losing Cliff," Maddon said. "Cliff has been a big part of what we're doing. He's still going to be here, but (Hinske) has been ready, so we're going to flip him through there and use him in those different roles."

Category: MLB
Posted on: October 26, 2008 2:00 am

Phillies win crazy Game 3, take 2-1 lead

PHILADELPHIA -- Goodbye Florida, hello elements.

The nasty Philadelphia weather may not have decided Game 3 Saturday night, but Mother Nature sure made her presence known during the wildest World Series game played in years. Following a 91-minute rain delay and the latest start time in Series history (10:06 p.m.), Philadelphia won it 5-4 on an infield hit that somehow won it in the most crowded infield you'll ever see.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz, who had homered in the second, chopped a bases-loaded roller down the third-base line that charging third baseman Evan Longoria couldn't get to in time. He made a heroic effort, lunging flat on the ground and trying to shovel the baseball toward catcher Dioner Navarro.

He had no chance. Eric Bruntlett slid home ahead of the throw.

And what a scene it was. After J.P. Howell hit Bruntlett with a pitch to lead off the ninth, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon summoned Grant Balfour. Then he pulled right fielder Ben Zobrist into the infield, positioning him up the middle, by second base. That gave the Rays five infielders as they attempted to defend a 4-4 tie and push the game into the 10th.

Balfour intentionally walked both Shane Victorino and Greg Dobbs to load the bases with nobody out. But instead of a double-play grounder, starting with a force at home, Ruiz was able to put the ball where Longoria couldn't get to it.

The end came at 1:47 a.m. and gave the Phillies a two games to one lead in this increasingly close World Series.

The game had nearly turned on one three-batter span in the sixth inning. While finesse artist Jamie Moyer clung to a 2-1 lead and spent most of the evening fooling Rays hitters, he left a pitch up with two out in the sixth. Oops. Longoria drilled it.

But instead of putting the Rays ahead 3-2 -- B.J. Upton was on second base -- a howling wind knocked down what would have been a sure home run at Tropicana Field (and, here, on a not-so-windy evening). Moyer's reaction walking off of the mound following the close call was terrific: Fully extended tongue hanging down toward his chin.

His teammates' reactions were pretty good, too. Chase Utley led off the bottom of the sixth by smashing the ball to right field. Bit of a tailwind in that direction, and gone. Up next Ryan Howard did the same thing, and the back-to-back homers made it 4-1 Phillies.

The wind messing with Longoria looked even more important in the seventh, when Tampa Bay pushed two runs across to pull to within 4-3.

One of those runs, though, should never have scored. Carl Crawford led off the seventh by pushing a bunt down the first-base line. Moyer rushed over and dove to field it, then flipped it with his glove to Howard at first. Howard barehanded the throw ahead of Crawford reaching the bag.

However, first-base umpire Tom Hallion was shielded by Howard and the odd angle of the play and called Crawford safe. Hallion appeared to be watching the first-base bag to see when Crawford crossed and listening for the sound of the ball thudding into the glove. It never came, though, when Howard softly barehanded it.

The Rays tied it in the eighth when Upton led off with an infield single, stole second and third and scored on catcher Ruiz's throwing error.

But an inning later, after Balfour hit Bruntlett to start the ninth, he wild-pitched Bruntlett to second and the Rays' own catching error -- Dioner Navarro threw the ball into center field -- sent Bruntlett to third and positioned the Phils for the win.


Posted on: October 22, 2008 5:34 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2008 7:28 pm

Coste Phils' DH; Zobrist in RF for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Game 1 lineups are in as the beginning of the World Series approaches, and there are two noteworthy decisions from Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel and Tampa Bay skipper Joe Maddon.

The first: Manuel has decided to use Chris Coste as his designated hitter. A backup catcher to Carlos Ruiz, Coste hit .263 with nine homers and 36 RBI in 98 games for the Phillies this season. He will bat eighth.

The interesting thing with this decision is that the Phillies only list two catchers on the roster. So if Ruiz is hurt and Coste fills in, the Phillies will have to play without a designated hitter.

"When I managed the Indians, I didn't do it very much, but since I've been over in the National League, I've done it quite a bit," Manuel said of using both of his catchers at once. "I've taken my catcher out quite a bit this year, and especially when Coste is catching, I'll put Ruiz in, sometime in the eighth inning or ninth inning, especially to catch (closer Brad) Lidge. ...

"As far as Coste DHing, I did think a lot about it, but I wanted to make sure that I could cover everything."

Also, Maddon will start Ben Zobrist in right field in place of Rocco Baldelli or Gabe Gross. Zobrist, the Rays' superutilityman who has only four postseason at- bats and hit only .253 with 12 homers and 30 RBI this season, will bat eighth.

Maddon told me at Tuesday's workout that matchups were favorable enough for Baldelli that he was considering playing the outfielder both in Games 1 and 2. But ultimately, given Baldelli's battle with mitochondrial disease (it leaves him fatigues and saps his muscles of energy), Maddon decided it was too risky to play him in both games.

"It's a matter of getting him physically ready to play today or tomorrow, and we chose tomorrow," Maddon said while the Rays took batting practice before their first-ever World Series game.

Part of that is because Cole Hamels, Philadelphia's Game 1 starter, is unusual in that he is a left-hander who is more effective against right-handers (like Baldelli) than lefties. For the season, right-handers hit only .215 against Hamels, while lefties hit .262.

As such, Maddon is playing three lefties -- second baseman Akinori Iwamura, first baseman Carlos Pena and outfielder Carl Crawford -- while leaving one semi-regular on the bench (outfielder Gabe Gross) in favor of Zobrist. Also, switch-hitter Willy Aybar will be the designated hitter, leaving lefty Cliff Floyd on the bench.

"We look at the way Hamels pitches and the way different guys in the lineup hit and the way pitchers are able to handle them," Maddon said. "Zoey has been getting work in the outfield. He's done great for us the last week of the season. We like Willy in there and we like Ben in there."

Said Baldelli: "I think I'm going tomorrow. When I showed up today, I wasn't in the lineup. That's all I know."


Posted on: October 21, 2008 4:26 pm

First images of the World Series

ST. PETERSBURG -- In a lot of ways, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia are mirror images of each other. Cinderella stories (more Tampa Bay than Philly, of course), strong lineups, good pitching and skippers who manage by the gut.

"It looks like Tampa Bay is on all burners, and what they do, (Philadelphia) does," Dodgers manager Joe Torre was saying late last week after the Phillies finished off his club. "They come out of the bullpen ith arm after arm after arm. You can say all you want about hitting, but pitching controls the game. Philadelphia has a throwback club. They live and die with the home run.

"Of course, you never know how someone's going to react playing indoors."

Especially in quirky Tropicana Field. The Rays rolled to baseball's best home record this season -- 61-27, including the postseason. Philadelphia has not played on artificial turf in more than two years, since July, 2006.

Torre recalled how his Yankees always had mild difficulty adjusting to Minnesota's Metrodome.

And he recalled how impressed he was with Tampa Bay -- then, as Yankees manager, and this year, from afar, watching the Rays mature.

"I'll tell you what, I think we were sitting in San Diego or someplace, and we were watching Tampa play up there during the latter part of the year," Torre said. "And it was at a point where if Boston -- I think they if they (won) a game, they were going to take over first place.

"And I think Tampa had a lead and I think Boston tied it late, and you pretty much said, 'Well that's the end of that. And then Boston took a lead into the ninth inning, and then you knew it was the end of that. And then Tampa Bay comes back and tied it and then won it in about 14 innings."

It was, in fact, the Sept. 10 game -- Tampa Bay won 4-2 in 12 innings in Fenway Park.

"At that point, they made me believers that they're for real and that they could look them right in the eye and not back away," Torre said. "And they're talented. There's no question. ...

"When I looked up there in that September night and saw what was happening, I think I didn't have to pick Boston anymore. Because any time anybody asked me, I had said it's probably going to be Boston based on the fact that they had the experience.

"But (Tampa) just faced that and just went after it. I'm pretty impressed with what Joe Maddon has done down there."


Category: MLB
Posted on: September 21, 2008 7:19 pm

Now paging Rudy Giuliani's wife

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Everybody's checking in with their Yankee Stadium memories, but here's one you're not going to hear anywhere else.

You know how former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani spends more time in Yankee Stadium than some of the box seats?

Well, before the first game of the 2002 playoffs, Los Angeles Angels bench coach Joe Maddon -- now generating a few stories as the manager who turned the Tampa Bay Rays around -- approached. But not necessarily to see Guiliani.

Maddon's motive: He went to high school with Judith Nathan, who was Giuliani's girlfriend at the time and now wife.

"Graduated together in 1972 in Hazelton, Pa.," Maddon says. "Her mom and my mom were buddies. I'm not saying we were great friends in high school. ..."

Anyway. ...

"I walked toward him and go to introduce myself and the goons started coming over and said, 'Hey, slow down!'" Maddon says. "I said, 'I just want to introduce myself to Mr. Giuliani.'"

So he did, told the mayor he was from Hazelton and Giuliani replied, "Hey, that's where Judy's from." Maddon told him they went to high school together and he just wanted to say hello, and Giuliani said she was running late and should be there in about 15 minutes.

Maddon didn't get to see her that night, nor has he seen her since.

That's one of his Yankee Stadium memories, but not the most vivid. No, that came in August, 1963.

"My dad took me with my Uncle Pete and Hank Toth to a Yankees-White Sox game," Maddon says. "The Yankees won 3-0, Whitey Ford pitched, Johnny Blanchard hit a home run, we exited out the center field gate by the monuments and when we walked outside my dad asked if I wanted a hat.

"I said yes, and I chose the St. Louis baseball Cardinals hat. That's the year I became a Cardinals fan. St. Louis Blues, Hawks, football Cardinals, even the St. Louis Billikens for awhile.

"All from that hat."

Likes: Been a lot of fun to watch baseball fans develop a crush on the Tampa Bay Rays here during the past week. ... The New York Times coverage of the closing of Yankee Stadium, including reminiscences Sunday from singer Paul Simon, director Penny Marshall and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, among others. ... Also, the memories of two of the Times' terrific, long-time baseball writers, Jack Curry  and Tyler Kepner. ... Another W for the Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central High football team, this one 49-21 over New Boston Huron on Friday night. The mighty Falcons are 4-0, and all of those young sophomores they're starting are gaining some experience.

Dislikes: So many teams are fading that there's little drama shaping up during the season's final week. Milwaukee, Minnesota, the White Sox, Arizona ... just one of those years.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hey Frank won’t you pack your bags
"And meet me tonight down at Liberty Hall
"Just one kiss from you my brother
"And we’ll ride until we fall
"We’ll sleep in the fields
"We’ll sleep by the rivers and in the morning
"We’ll make a plan
"Well if you can’t make it
"Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive
"If you can
"And meet me in a dream of this hard land"

-- Bruce Springsteen, This Hard Land


Posted on: September 18, 2008 12:26 am

Tampa Bay's Magic Number(s)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It feels like the beginning of a New World Order here.

Tampa Bay cleaned Boston's clock in two out of three games, and not only does Tampa Bay now have a couple of Magic Numbers, but those Magic Numbers are extraordinarily, incredibly, impressively ... low.

Here's a sentence that's never before been typed:

Tampa Bay can clinch its first-ever playoff spot by winning two games this weekend against the Minnesota Twins.

The Rays' Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot is 3.

Their Magic Number to win the AL East title is 10.

You'd better believe they sense October is close enough to reach out and touch.

"Minnesota's coming in, and whatever our Magic Number is, we can do it in two days," reliever Grant Balfour, who out-dueled David Ortiz in a key fifth-inning at-bat Wednesday (Ortiz flied to center), said. "We can do it on Friday night. I think the guys know that.

"I think we're in good shape. I've got a feeling we're going to do it pretty quick."

Two wins over the Twins simply gets Tampa Bay an October ticket. But the Rays say they're still gunning to win the AL East title. By virtue of beating Boston on Wednesday, they win the season series against the Red Sox, which would give Tampa Bay the tiebreaker if the two clubs finish with the same record.

But Tampa Bay holds a two-game edge with 12 games left. Boston has only 10 games remaining.

A division title would come in handy, because the Rays have been incredible at home. They're 55-22 at Tropicana Field. And when fans actually show up, they're even tougher: They're 20-1 now in front of 30,000 or more fans at home, and they've got a 20-game winning streak after losing on Opening Day.

When Boston catcher Kevin Cash reached first base in the fifth inning Wednesday, he told Carlos Pena that Tropicana Field was "the loudest place he's ever heard."

"That's great," Pena said. "It really has an effect on the players."

Manager Joe Maddon said he thought the fans were "a little bit more anticipatory. They were really into it even before the first pitch, and it was kind of nice."

The manager also said that the Rays will celebrate as soon as they clinch a playoff spot, even if the AL East title is still up for grabs.

"Sure, that would be cause for celebration, absolutely," Maddon said. "You look at where the Rays have come from. I'm into celebrating.

"If we get to that point sooner, we'll do it in the appropriate way."

Likes: One of Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon's things is to push for Meatloaf series wins. Huh? That's his funky way of preaching to his players the goal of winning two games of each three-game series. As in, you know, the old Meatloaf smash hit from the late 1970s: Two out of three ain't bad. The Rays have responded, too, they own a club-record 32 series wins, most in the majors, and they've lost only nine of their past 41 series. That kind of stuff will get you a division title. ... I hadn't been to Tropicana Field since 1999, and I still much prefer my baseball outdoors. But I will say, they've brightened the place up considerably since I've last been here. ... I figured the White Sox were a lock to win in Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night when, earlier in the day, I checked the pitching probables and saw the Sox were listing kid pitcher Lance Broadway as their starter. How can you go wrong in New York with a kid named Broadway? But alas, manager Ozzie Guillen went with Clayton Richard. And lost. Oops. ... Nice late-morning run on the Jefferson High School track -- home of such alums as Tony La Russa and Tino Martinez. But it is humid and sweltering here.

Dislikes: Milwaukee's Ben Sheets leaving Wednesday's game in Chicago with forearm stiffness. Not a good sign for the Brewers, who need every good fortune they can get down the stretch. ...Very noticeable how many political ads they're throwing on the television in the state of Florida -- at least, in the Tampa area. One after another, John McCain and then Barack Obama, then Obama and then McCain. And the negativity gets old, quick.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You'll never find your gold on a sandy beach
"You'll never drill for oil on a city street
"I know you're looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks
"But there ain't no Couple de Ville hiding
"At the bottom of a Cracker Jack box"

-- Meatloaf, Two Out of Three (Ain't Bad)

Posted on: August 13, 2008 11:52 pm

Carl Crawford: See you in October?

No need to wait until season's end. We've already got a winner in the Most Unfair Moment of the Season.

It'll happen Thursday, when Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford undergoes hand surgery that will likely sideline him for the rest of the season.

How about that one?

Guy plays his guts out year after year for teams that, if they weren't going to lose 100 games, they sure were going to give it a try.

He's a two-time All-Star, a four-time AL stolen base champion, an all-around good guy.

And now, just when things are finally starting to get good in Tampa Bay, Crawford must leave?

You know what I think of when I think of Crawford? This spring, making the rounds from camp to camp, I was talking with the Angels' Torii Hunter when the subject turned to players who are pleasures to watch.

"Know who I really like to watch?" Hunter asked.


"Carl Crawford, because he plays all-out all the time."

"Do you know him pretty well?"

The answer came back quickly: No. Not at all.

That really registered. To me, that's one of the highest compliments a guy could ever offer. Many players around the league will say good things about their friends.

But for a player to volunteer how much he enjoys watching another guy play … and he doesn't even know that guy? That's as pure as it gets.

I don't know whether the Rays will hang onto their AL East lead, but I do know this: These next three or so weeks are as crucial as any three-week stretch in franchise history.

Because not only is Crawford out, but the Rays have placed rookie smash Evan Longoria on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured bone in his wrist.

The Rays think Longoria can return to the lineup by Sept. 1 -- thus, my three-week assessment. But if Longoria is out longer, the Rays' task only gets more difficult.

As Rays manager Joe Maddon said earlier this year, "We're not just trying to be a member of the standings. We're trying to be at the top."

For Crawford's sake, after the season they've put together, the Rays deserve to be there. That way, Crawford can re-join them for some October fun.

Likes: Six weeks left, and five of the six divisions remain up for grabs (I'm taking a wild leap here and awarding the AL West to the Angels). It's dizzying attempting to keep up with who's in first in the AL Central. Minnesota and the White Sox have traded places for five consecutive days. … San Diego reliever Heath Bell's T-shirt: "I'm in Shape … Round is a Shape." … Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, ejected again during Wednesday's doubleheader with the Cubs. … Milwaukee's starting pitching. CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets back-to-back in the rotation? The Brewers get to the playoffs, it's not going to be any fun for opposing hitters in a short series. … My new laptop. The old one was so virus-ridden after five years it was like trying to run through quicksand. It's been forever since I've updated Bull Pennings, partly because I took a week off following the All-Star Game and partly because the old computer had become nearly unworkable. … Kid Rock's All Summer Long. Never thought I'd be saying this about Kid Rock, but what a great, great tune.

Dislikes: Foreclosures and gas prices dominating the newspapers each morning.

Rock-N-Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Splashing through the sand bar
"Talking by the campfire
"It's the simple things in life, like when and where
"We didn't have no internet
"But man I never will forget
"The way the moonlight shined upon her hair

-- Kid Rock, All Summer Long

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com