Rain or shine, Rays expect wet field
Maddon and Co. anticipate White Sox will try to impede speed
CHICAGO -- If you can't stop a running game, you can at least bog it down, which is what the Rays anticipate the White Sox to try to do Sunday in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
The Rays already have three stolen bases in the series, and with Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Jason Bartlett, Rocco Baldelli and Fernando Perez on the roster, there's a good bet that number will go higher before the series is over, which is why the Rays expect the White Sox ground crew to be busy before the start of the game.
Carlos Pena said it would be understandable if the White Sox wet down the field.
"We have very fast team, a team that uses baserunning as a tool, which is very rare in the American League, to be honest with you," Pena said. "A lot of speed on this ballclub, so no, it won't be surprising if it's a little bit wet out there tomorrow."
Maddon noted some of the alterations could include making the clay along the foul lines tilt slightly so bunts will roll foul, wetting down the area around first base to slow down potential basestealers, and wetting down the area in front of home plate, too."
Conversely, wetting down the area in front of home plate, in theory, could work well for some of the Rays' pitchers -- such as Game 3 starter Matt Garza and relievers J.P. Howell and Chad Bradford, who all can induce ground balls.
"If [the water is] overt, we can probably say something," Maddon said. "... It happens all the time in baseball. It's happened for years in different places. It's just something [that's acceptable] just as long as you don't go overboard."
Maddon then smiled.
"You watch in the first inning," Maddon said. "As soon as we get somebody over there, you'll notice. Just watch the groundskeeper before the game, see how much time he takes at first base."
Upton offered this solution for playing on a field with a wet area around first base: "Wait for it to dry."
"Wait for it to dry, it's got to dry at some point," Upton said. "We're still going to run. They can't make it too soft -- it's going to affect them too. ... No rubber boots, but my guess is it's going to be pretty soft over there the first few innings."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.