ST. PETERSBURG -- Kelly Shoppach will be honored on the weekend of Nov. 4-5 by his alma mater, Baylor University, when he is inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame along with five other former Bears athletes.
Shoppach was a two-year starter at catcher for the Bears, earning consensus All-America honors as a junior in 2001, and he was the inaugural Johnny Bench Award winner as the nation's top collegiate catcher in 2001. In addition, Shoppach was the 2001 Easton Defensive Player of the Year.
Shoppach established Baylor single-season records for a catcher in 2001 when he had 93 hits, 69 RBIs and a .463 on-base percentage. That same season, he ran off a 28-game hitting streak, which ranks as the second longest in school history. For his efforts in 2001, Shoppach earned Big 12 Player of the Year honors.
Tampa Bay BBWAA unveils award winners
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America announced the winners of its annual awards on Tuesday. Voting was done on a 5-3-1 point basis.
James Shields won the Most Valuable Player Award, receiving nine of 10 first-place votes. Evan Longoria finished second.
"It's definitely an honor for sure, compared to what happened last year, I wanted to put a stamp on this organization for what I did last year as far as my numbers go," Shields said. "I mean, I thought I pitched pretty well last year -- obviously a couple of games here and there. I wanted to be more consistent this year. And that's what I did."
Johnny Damon won the Paul C. Smith Champion Award, named in honor of the late MLB.com writer, and presented to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field. Shields finished second.
Jeremy Hellickson won the Outstanding Rookie Award in a unanimous vote, with Desmond Jennings finishing second.
Maddon weighs in on managing in September
ST. PETERSBURG -- A lot of players wearing uniform numbers above No. 60 are seen annually this time of year after teams expand their rosters on Sept. 1.
Given the bonus amount of players available to a team, games can be played differently in September, which prompts the question of whether or not there should be some limits. After all, teams have played all summer with a 25-man roster in place, then come September, managers have the luxury of having players for use in many different situations.
When asked if there should be a limit on September callups, or the number of players who can be active each night, Rays manager Joe Maddon smiled.
"There are so many different ways to look at it," Maddon said. "I do think it should be restricted a little bit more. Maybe bring up as many as you want, but only so many qualify on a nightly basis -- or on a game-by-game basis. At some point the matchups do increase. And if you're a team that's really not involved in any type of playoff situation, you can do anything you possibly want."
Planning for games becomes more complicated for managers due to the increased number of players to prepare for in the event they might play in the game.
"It can be confusing a little bit," Maddon said. "You try to eliminate things before the game begins. Or try to really figure out what the other team is willing to do. Sometimes they're not even willing to try certain things. You don't know the manager enough or you haven't played them under these circumstances -- there are so many variables. But I do spend more time looking at it. No question, I do."
Upton stepping up his game for Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -- B.J. Upton has been an offensive force for the Rays lately.
While hitting second in the lineup over the last 21 games, Upton has hit .375 with 13 extra-base hits, 14 RBIs, 14 walks, and seven stolen bases.
"B.J.'s been doing great," Maddon said. "His at-bats have been fantastic. His defense, his baserunning, everything's been very, very good. B.J. likes this time of year. B.J. likes playoff baseball. He's done well there in the past; he kind of rises to the occasion. So this doesn't surprise me what he's doing."
Potential tiebreaker tix on sale Wednesday
ST. PETERSBURG -- Tickets for a possible tiebreaker game between the Rays and Red Sox will go on sale Wednesday at 9 a.m. exclusively at raysbaseball.com.
If the Rays and Red Sox are tied in the standings after Wednesday's regular-season finales, the two teams would play a one-game tiebreaker at Tropicana Field on Thursday at 4:07 p.m. ET to determine who would advance to the American League Division Series as the American League Wild Card team.
While purchasing tickets online, fans are encouraged to take advantage of the free "Print at Home" option, allowing fans to print their tickets at home and avoid any lines at Will Call.
Any remaining tickets would go on sale at 9 a.m. on Thursday at the Tropicana Field Box Office, Rays Tampa Pro Shop & Ticket Outlet (located at 400 N. Tampa Street in Downtown Tampa), all Ticketmaster locations and via phone at 888-FAN-RAYS.
In the event the tiebreaker game is not played, all credit cards will be automatically refunded.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.