Maddon and the Rays accept Rodney, crooked hat and all

NEW YORK -- Mike Scioscia told Fernando Rodney to put his hat on straight.

Joe Maddon may tell the rest of his players to wear their hats crooked.

Scioscia and Maddon are former colleagues, and close friends. But they run their teams differently, and Rodney believes the Maddon-inspired atmosphere is one reason he's having much greater success with the Rays than he did with Scioscia's Angels.

"I like to have fun," Rodney said Tuesday. "They have fun."

It began in spring training, when 81-year-old Don Zimmer would tilt his cap to the side, Rodney style, whenever Rodney came into a game.

Now, Maddon says he's thinking of making one of his theme trips a "Rodney trip," where every Rays player and coach would wear a cap Rodney style.

"It's like they're saying, 'Welcome, Rodney, enjoy it, have a good time here,'" Rodney said.

And he is.

In two seasons with the Angels, Rodney had a 4.59 ERA and converted just 17 of 28 save opportunities.

In two months with the Rays, Rodney has a 1.71 ERA and has converted 17 of 18 save opportunities. Signed to be a setup man for closer Kyle Farnsworth, he's done so well with Farnsworth on the disabled list that Maddon said he expects to continue giving Rodney some of the save opportunities when Farnsworth returns.

Maddon obviously trusts Rodney.

"I trust him, too," Rodney said.

And the way Maddon accepts his hat style is part of it.

"He's got a great joy for the game," Maddon said. "Why would I ever want to interfere with someone's joy. I'd prefer we all wear our hats that way as opposed to getting him to change.

"He's a uniquely refreshing man."

He's having fun, and he's having success, and he's convinced the two are related.

"The game is about having fun," Rodney said. "I had fun [with the Angels], but it wasn't what I was looking for."

The Rays, on the other hand, were exactly what he was looking for.

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