MILWAUKEE -- The Rays announced the signing of four of their picks from the 2011 First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday. Included in those four were: Shortstop Jack Hager (32nd overall) out of Sierra Vista High School in Nevada; compensation round picks Jeffrey Ames (42nd overall), a right-hander from Lower Columbia Junior College in Washington, and outfielder James Harris (60th overall) out of Oakland Tech High School in California. In addition, they signed sixth-round pick Christopher Floethe, a right-hander from Cal-State Fullerton.
Hager and Ames were assigned to Princeton (Appalachian League), Harris to the Gulf Coast Rookie League Rays and Loethe to Hudson Valley (NY-Penn).
The Rays have now signed 29 of their 60 selections, including six of their top 11.
Maddon clarifies use of Fuld on Monday
MILWAUKEE -- Prior to Tuesday night's game against the Brewers, Rays manager Joe Maddon cleared up the confusion stemming from his use of Sam Fuld in Monday night's game.
Evan Longoria had just given the Rays a seven-run lead via a three-run homer in the top of the eighth when Maddon sent outfielder Fuld in to warm up on the mound prior to the Brewers' turn at bat.
Maddon's motivation was to give left-hander Cesar Ramos enough time to warm up. Joel Peralta had been the scheduled pitcher in the eighth, but with the lead extended, Maddon wanted to save Peralta and use Ramos. Fuld had pinch-hit for reliever J.P. Howell in the top of the eighth, so to Maddon's way of thinking, Fuld technically had already filled the pitcher's shoes. Maddon believed that Fuld did not have to pitch to a hitter after warming up, since he had already established himself as the pitcher.
Once Ramos was ready, Fuld left the mound without pitching to a batter. The confusion came because the umpires got the idea that Fuld had injured himself when he had not, which was the explanation the umpiring crew gave after the game when they were asked why Fuld did not have to face a batter.
"We got away with violating a rule," Maddon said. "There was no shenanigans or misinformation, I just think it was a miscommunication between me and [home-plate umpire] Bob Davidson. And quite frankly, I don't understand why there's been such a big deal made about it. It was a total honest mistake."
Maddon said he told Davidson he needed Fuld to warm up because he needed some extra time to bring the other pitcher into the game.
"Because I don't want to use Peralta," Maddon said. "So Joel had started to run in and we got him to go back. And we tried to get Ramos in there, so in an 8-1 game, we don't have to use Joel Peralta. And that was it. And [Davidson] said something to me [when Ramos came in] that, 'You can have as many as you need,' which retrospectively tells me that he may have thought it was an injury. That's when you normally get to throw as many pitches as you want. So that's why I'm saying it was a total miscommunication. He misunderstood me. I never said anything about an injury. That's what happened."
Maddon took full responsibility for what happened. He talked to Joe Torre, Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations, on Tuesday, and he also apologized to the umpires.
Milwaukee had no problem with what Maddon did Monday night.
Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron, who was managing in place of the ejected Ron Roenicke, thought the same thing Monday night as Maddon -- that because Fuld had already entered the game in the top of the inning as a pinch-hitter, he was not required to pitch to a batter after taking the mound.
Roenicke found himself watching from an uncomfortable vantage point in the clubhouse. But he said he was not bothered by Maddon's stall.
"Not at all," Roenicke said. "I think there's times when you get caught. You plan to do something. OK, Peralta is coming in the game. Then all of a sudden you can score three or four runs and you don't want him in the game. That's what happened. You're not ready for it.
"I don't have a problem when you're trying to protect a pitcher from coming in and throwing and reducing the risk of an injury. I don't care if it's on the other side or not. It's not that pitcher's fault in the bullpen. If he comes in and needs more time, that doesn't bother me."
After rough weekend, Longoria off to hot start
MILWAUKEE -- After a frustrating weekend series against the Marlins in which he hit a lot of balls hard but always at someone, Evan Longoria went 2-for-5 Monday night against the Brewers with a home run.
"The two hits I got -- one off the bat for a home run and the other just kind of blooped in," Longoria said. "After the series I had at home, when I hit four or five balls hard right at guys, sometimes you just need those to get yourself going."
Longoria entered Tuesday night's action hitting .237 with six home runs and 23 RBIs -- which is below expectations -- making the Rays third baseman just like a lot of the guys on the team who have struggled offensively. Longoria was hopeful that the eight runs the team scored Monday night will get the offense going so they can help out the starting pitching more than they have.
"Every starting pitcher has been giving us a chance to win every night," Longoria said. "I think as an offense that makes it a lot easier -- when you come to the ballpark and guys are going seven strong every night. That helps a lot."
Kyle Farnsworth is the only pitcher in the Major Leagues with a save percentage of 90 or better (93.7 percent), an ERA under 2.00 (1.93) and an opponent's batting average of less than .200 (.198).
Casey Kotchman's .341 average would rank second in the Major Leagues, but he is 27 plate appearances shy of qualifying.
Monday night, Miller Park became the 35th different road park the Rays have played in.
Pitching coach Jim Hickey returned to the team Tuesday after tending to his fire-damaged home in St. Cloud, Fla., on Monday. The Rays pitching coach said that his house would have likely burned to the ground had his family not been home to call the fire department. The fire started in the garage but did not spread, though the fire did inflict smoke and soot damage to the inside of the house.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.