SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Rays committed four errors on Saturday, giving the team its highest error total in a single game -- including Spring Training, regular season and playoff games -- since June 6, 2009, against the Yankees in New York, when they made four errors in a 9-7 win. The Rays played 525 games in between.
"That was the anomaly game," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Everybody is clamoring for offense and I keep insisting that I would rather pitch well and play defense well. And I still hold that from [Saturday]. That's not the game we want to play, a game with that many mistakes. ...
"I'd rather us have difficulties hitting than have difficulties catching the ball or pitching the ball. So it was kind of awkward watching that whole thing. ... We played probably our worst game of the spring in a sense, but we scored seven runs and everybody thinks that's better."
Maddon concluded by stating what he desires from this year's team.
"So, moving forward, man, we've got to catch it and we've got to pitch it," Maddon said. "And we've got to be creative scoring runs. And at the same time, I really believe there's a lot of offensive talent on this team. I think we're going to hit our stride and all of a sudden we're going to see a lot of offense coming out of this group."
Shields sharp in final tuneup
SARASOTA, Fla. -- James Shields made his final start of the spring Sunday against the Orioles in Sarasota and the Rays' Opening Day starter looked sharp.
"Yeah, I think I threw 60 pitches, nice little tune-up," Shields said. "I felt really good. Nice to have [Jose Molina] back there [at catcher] the last couple of games. I mean, I had a pretty good spring. I feel good. Everything's right in line to start the season."
The Rays' right-hander held the Orioles to one run on two hits while walking one and striking out six.
"I was more happy with my location of my fastball and my cutter today," Shields said. "But the changeup was working."
Shields had his longest outing on Tuesday against Boston's Triple-A Pawtucket club, striking out 12 in seven innings and he intentionally threw approximately 50 fewer pitches Sunday in advance of Friday's opener.
"Feel the same as usual," Shields said. "I'm ready to go for the season, excited to start this thing off. We've got a pretty good team. We've been hitting well the last couple of days, so that's exciting. I'm ready to go."
Kentucky defeated Louisville in the Final Four semifinals Saturday night, which means the Wildcats will play Kansas on Monday night for the national championship. If you're a Rays fan, you might want to cheer for Kansas since the last six times Kentucky won a national championship (1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998) the Yankees followed with a World Series title in the fall.
Rays manager Joe Maddon smiled at the suggestion he would pull for Kansas in order to prevent the Yankees from winning the World Series.
"I don't believe in that kind of stuff, coincidence or whatever," Maddon said. "I'm really not into the NCAA this year. I have no idea what's been going on. I saw a little bit of that game last night, Ohio State [against Kansas]. ... I'm out of it this year. I'm totally out of it. So we'll see what happens. I don't really worry about that sort of thing."
• Fernando Rodney (right forearm bruise) and Jeff Niemann (right middle finger blister) are both doing well according to Maddon.
"Fernando really surprised [head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield] how well he was," Maddon said. "Swelling significantly down, still some bruising, but [he's] on a good path. And that same thing with Jeff, he threw and he was fine. But both appear to be moving along fine."
• Sean Rodriguez started at shortstop Sunday and Reid Brignac started at second base, then they flip-flopped later in the game. Maddon said he still has not made a decision about who will start at shortstop this season.
"There's a possibility of a platoon," Maddon said. "There's a possibility there would not be a platoon. Some of it's still tied in to what we do in the outfield. ... How we do that and then looking at the overall consistency or makeup of the roster. Everything is still kind of wide open."
• The Rays will finish the spring with a losing record for the first time since 2007 (10-19-2). This is the Rays' 15th Grapefruit League season, with 32 games on the schedule. This spring will snap the Rays' streak of four straight springs with at least 15 wins.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.