Joyce begins rehab assignment in Durham
Outfielder recovering from strained right elbow
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays affiliates at Triple-A Durham, Double-A Montgomery, Class A Charlotte and Class A Bowling Green began play on Thursday. Among the players wearing a Durham uniform is Matt Joyce, who is beginning a rehab assignment for his strained right elbow.
Maddon discussed the plan for Joyce, who had been earmarked for platoon duty in right field heading into Spring Training before the elbow problem.
"He's going to DH," Maddon said. "We're going to work him in, throwing-wise. He's going to be on a throwing program to morph him into playing the outfield and throwing from the outfield again.
"We wanted to maintain the integrity of 100 at-bats in Spring Training. We did not want him just sitting around waiting for his arm to be well to rehab him. So taking our best guess, it looks like if we start him right now as a hitter, that by the time his rehab assignment is up, he should be about ready to throw full strength from the outfield."
Shields welcomes second daughter
ST. PETERSBURG -- James Shields wasn't at Tropicana Field on Wednesday night, one day after he served as the Rays' Opening Day starter and delivered six strong innings against the Orioles.
On Wednesday afternoon, Shields' wife, Ryane, did the delivering, as the couple welcomed their second child, a girl weighing in at 7 pounds and 15 ounces, and measuring 21 1/2 inches long.
"Big Game" Shields wants to keep his second daughter's name private.
"I'm not going to let that one out, you can call her 'Baby Game,' " Shields said. "It's a little girl, she's healthy, it's all good, man."
Shields described the labor as "real quick," and noted that the doctor caught him off guard when he asked him if he wanted to do the delivery.
"I was panicking a little bit," he said. "I told him he should have told me two days ago so I could prep. I let him do his thing. I said, 'You're better at this than I am.' I'm not too good of a catcher."
The Shieldses reported to the hospital in the morning, and the delivery was complete by 2:45 that afternoon. Their older daughter, Ashtyn, 6, already loves her sister.
"She wrote her a letter in the morning," Shields said. "She wouldn't let us read the letter until she saw her and she read it to her. So it was a real cool moment."
Maddon acknowledges local Yankees fans
ST. PETERSBURG -- With the World Series champion Yankees coming to town for a weekend series beginning Friday, manager Joe Maddon was asked if winning the set would help convert the Yankees-cap-wearing walkers and runners on Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard.
Maddon lives near Bayshore Boulevard, which runs along Hillsborough Bay in South Tampa, and often rides his bicycle there. Bayshore Boulevard can often be perceived as providing the pulse of fickle fans in the area, who waver between allegiance to the Yankees, who train in Tampa, and the Rays.
"I still see a lot of our hats," said Maddon with a smile. "I saw one of our hats the other day at the bus stop at Bay-to-Bay and MacDill."
Maddon acknowledged that having a Yankees fan base in Rays country is a unique situation.
"So many things that happen for the New York Yankees are generated through Tampa," he said. "I never knew what that was all about until I moved here.
"Now I've seen it first-hand, and it's kind of unusual. We in some ways infiltrated their territory. They were here before the Devil Rays. I'm still satisfied with the Rays hats."
Maddon said it will be good to have the Yankees in for the weekend series.
"They're good, they're still good," he said. "I don't think they're any better than last year, I think they're just as good as they were last year, which is what, 103 wins? So they're still quite a force."
Maddon not concerned about Soriano
ST. PETERSBURG -- New closer Rafael Soriano has been a high-wire act the first two games, but he came away with the win on Tuesday night and a save on Wednesday.
In the process, the hard-throwing right-hander has allowed four hits, a walk, a run and no strikeouts.
Some might be concerned, but don't count manager Joe Maddon among that group.
"He's gotten the job done both times," Maddon said. "He's not as sharp as he can be, I know that. But you can see it."
Maddon had no second thoughts about allowing Soriano to work on his own program during Spring Training.
"I'm getting to know him, and I'm trusting him," he said. "He's gotten through those two games. He's got a win, and he's got a save. ... My takeaway is how he managed to maintain his calm and his focus when things got going pretty quickly."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.