Notes: Patience helping Wigginton
No longer 'jumpy,' slugger attributes strong start to selectivity
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Ty Wigginton has historically been a slow starter. That is, until his first season with the Rays in 2006, when he changed his approach during Spring Training. The approach worked, and he used it again this past spring.
"The first couple of [Spring Training] games, I try to get at least one 3-2 count per game," Wigginton said. "I might even take a strike I'd normally hit so I can see more pitches than I normally would. I'll go up there like, 'No matter what, I'm not swinging at this pitch.'"
Wigginton got off to a strong start in 2006 and is off to a good start this season with a .296 average, four home runs and 13 RBIs entering Monday. Over the past two seasons, Wigginton has collected 37 RBIs in April. Prior to last season, Wigginton had just 21 April RBIs in his first four seasons in the Major Leagues.
"I think no matter what your situation, you're preparing yourself for the season," Wigginton said. "I know I did the same thing the year before and this year, and it's worked out."
Wigginton said he came up with the approach when he thought about his tendency to be "jumpy" early in the season.
"And being jumpy is you not trusting yourself," Wigginton said. "I figured the more [pitches] I'd see, even if I get beat, the less jumpy I'm going to be tomorrow."
Extra attention: Eight different media outlets broadcast Monday night's game from Tropicana Field: NHK (Japanese TV), JOLF (Japanese Radio), ESPN, ION, WHNZ, WGES, YES and WCBS. The Rays issued approximately 120 more media credentials than normal.
Prior to the game, Rays players looked anything but uptight about the attention.
"We really like this," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "This is good for us. As we continue to get better, we're going to want to see this often in the September, October range. So this is a nice place to cut your teeth. And, actually, whenever you play these guys, it kind of feels this way. Whenever you play the Yankees, it's got that certain flavor to it. And it's a good thing. Just walking in tonight, there were a bunch of trucks out there, where you could hardly walk in. I think our guys are ready for it."
No waves for Ryu: Rays right-hander Jae Kuk Ryu might live in the Tampa Bay area, but you won't see him hopping into the Gulf of Mexico or any other oceans or seas due to an incident that occurred when he was 7 years old.
A native of Korea, Ryu was swimming in the Pacific Ocean when tragedy nearly struck.
"There were really big waves, and they crushed me," Ryu said. "I really don't even remember the wave -- I just woke up in the hospital. I nearly drowned. My dad saved me."
Ryu's father was watching him swim at the time, and after the wave took Ryu under, his father looked for him.
"I'm drowning, and he's trying to look for me," Ryu said. "Then he just found me on the bottom. I won't go in there again."
Ryu smiled when asked if he rented a home at the beach for the season.
"No, no," he said.
Two degrees: Brendan Harris has been playing regularly lately thanks to his hot bat. But normally, he is a utility infielder. And he has the distinction of holding two degrees from William & Mary, in business and political science.
"I can't speak highly enough of my experience there," Harris said.
His face assumed a sheepish expression when asked if having two degrees takes some of the pressure off his playing baseball because he will always be able to fall back on his education.
"It does, but you never really want to think about worst-case scenarios if something happened," Harris said. "But at the same time, it is a nice feather in your cap. I'm very proud of it. I feel like the experience kind of molded and shaped me a little better and prepared me for my experiences here and this kind of lifestyle. And there's a big alumni network, where if I wasn't in the game, I think I could ease into it. It's nice, but it's kind of like your retirement, you don't want to tap into it early."
Up next: The Rays and Yankees will complete their two-game series on Tuesday night with a 7:10 ET contest at Tropicana Field. Left-hander Scott Kazmir will start for the Rays and be opposed by right-hander Chien-Ming Wang.