Notes: Errors catch Maddon's attention
Rays manager vows to address Sunday's fielding woes
ST. PETERSBURG -- After two error-free games, the Devil Rays struggled defensively on Sunday, when they committed six errors in a 7-4 loss to the Blue Jays."Oh yeah, absolutely [I was disappointed with the defense]. That can't happen," manager Joe Maddon said. "Our guys have been working great, and it broke down on us today. We're going to address it tomorrow in our early-work practice. We'll address the different things. We'll talk about it. We'll physically work at it. We'll just make those problems go away." Sunday's performance did not bode well for a team that committed 116 errors in 2006, which was the third-most errors in the American League. The errors were as follows: two throwing errors by third baseman B.J. Upton, a throwing error by shortstop Jorge Velandia, a bobbled grounder by shortstop Ben Zobrist, a missed grounder by first baseman Carlos Pena and a dropped fly ball by right fielder Elijah Dukes. Throughout Upton's career, he has struggled with his throws, which made Sunday's performance a bit of a setback. Maddon said he talked to Upton about his day. "I just think he's gotten away from a couple of things in regard to his throwing," Maddon said. "And we're going to talk about that tomorrow and get that all straightened out. He'll be fine. He's going to be fine." Maddon said he didn't see any pattern to Sunday's errors. "We just did not play good defense," Maddon said. "It's a mechanical issue. I have no problem with the effort at all. We just have to work through the youthful things that guys do some time." Backup catcher battle wages on: Shawn Riggans is in competition with Josh Paul for the Rays' backup catcher position. Paul brings a veteran presence to the clubhouse, and he calls a masterful game behind the plate, prompting the question to Maddon whether Riggans has a legitimate shot at making the team.
"He can absolutely [make the team]," Maddon said. "Part of it is he's a young man, and you'd have to weigh whether you'd want a young man sitting on the bench as the backup catcher. Or do you want him to play every day in Triple-A. I mean, these are the kind of things you have to weigh.
"And, of course, you have to have a good spring. When you look at a guy like Rigo, you have to weigh a whole bunch of different variables for him. But he's making a good first impression this year, and he made a great first impression last year."Riggans appeared in eight games for the Rays last September and hit .172 (5-for-29), while throwing out each of the three runners that tried to steal. Riggans, 26, said he can't really answer the question of whether he's ready for the Major Leagues. "The only thing that I can really control in that whole situation is my play on the field," Riggans said. "And me being a player, I can't look at anything else but that. And I can't concern myself with anything but my play on the field. Otherwise, it will take away from my game. I would just like to make the decision tough, however that's possible. That's all I can do." Riggans concedes he would like to be in the Major Leagues. "That's everybody's dream," he said. "But if I go out there and I play my game, I think I have a good opportunity. And then I leave the rest up to them. I do what they tell me to do. I'm a player. I'm not a front-office guy, and that's just how it is. And I want it to be like that for many years. I love playing the game, and we'll just see how it works out." This and that: Bullpen hopeful Al Reyes pitched a 1-2-3 stint against the Blue Jays on Saturday, prompting Maddon to salute the veteran reliever by calling Saturday "Al Reyes Day." Reyes is coming back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. Prior to Sunday's game, Maddon again saluted Reyes when he talked to the team, which prompted a round of applause by his teammates. ... The Rays have selected David Pygman to be the new public address announcer at Tropicana Field. Pygman, who works at WCBK radio in Mooresville, Ind., will make his debut at the Rays' Grapefruit League finale on March 31 against the Mets. Up next: The Rays will host the Twins on Monday afternoon in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest at Progress Energy Park. Right-hander Jae Seo will start for the Rays and will be followed by right-handers Gary Glover, Shawn Camp, Scott Dohmann, Edwin Jackson, Tim Corcoran and Ruddy Lugo and left-hander J.P. Howell. Right-hander Carlos Silva will start for the Twins.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.