05/02/07 6:01 PM ET
Notes: Rays off and running
Team's stolen base success rate continues to rise
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
On April 21, the Rays had stolen 14 bases in 27 attempts -- a 52 percent success ratio. Since then, the Rays have stolen 14 bases and been thrown out just three times (82 percent). With 28 steals in 44 attempts, the team has been successful 64 percent of the time.
"I think you can steal bases all the time, but early on, guys were trying to figure out who they can run on," said Rays left fielder Carl Crawford, the American League's reigning stolen base champion. "When it's a good time to get a jump, that's what counts. ... Now guys are probably getting a better idea, like if they need to get a bigger lead. Sometimes they might get a stop sign against a tougher guy early on in the year."
Crawford said there are a myriad of things that can affect a stolen base count.
"You got a good catcher like [Twins catcher] Joe [Mauer] back there today, he's a good catcher, so you might not run as much," Crawford said. "You know that as a runner, unless it's a pitcher who is giving you a high leg kick or something. You just try to pick your spots. I think that's what we've been going on lately. Guys have been more selective for when they need to run."
Norton ready for rehab: Greg Norton, who had right knee surgery on April 2, has had a few at-bats in extended Spring Training games and is slated to travel to Double-A Montgomery on Thursday to begin a rehab assignment.
Norton said sitting around waiting to play again has been driving him crazy, and that the work he's had to do has been hard. Wednesday he wanted some help with his batting stroke.
"It just hasn't been feeling right," said Norton, who explained he studies his swing on video and wanted someone who has seen him swing to take a look at him to try and right the ship. Hitting coach Steve Henderson and bench coach Bill Evers provided that insight.
Norton has a classic, dry sense of humor, so the jokes were flying while he was around. Rays manager Joe Maddon smiled when asked how long Norton would be at Montgomery.
"We talked about having 30 at-bats, but coach [Tom] Foley insisted he get 10 hits before he comes back," Maddon said. "So we're working on a different type of rehab situation. He'd have to have a nice start there at Montgomery to fulfill. He's had one hit to this point. Today, it was a double off the wall. So, he's not on pace, according to the coaching staff."
Fossum to attend Hancock's funeral: Casey Fossum will be away from the team Thursday while he and his wife attend Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock's funeral in Tupelo, Miss.
Hancock died in a car accident on Sunday morning in St. Louis. Fossum and Hancock were together in the Red Sox's farm system. They were roommates when they played in the Florida State League for Sarasota. The Rays left-hander will not miss his start on Friday night against the A's.
'The King' at Disney: NASCAR legend Richard Petty will be on hand to throw out the first pitch and sign autographs when the Devil Rays play the Rangers on May 16 at The Ballpark at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.
Fans attending the game will have the opportunity to meet "The King" during an autograph session on The Ballpark's concourse area along the first-base line from 5:45-6:45 p.m. ET. Fans are encouraged to bring their Petty collectables for him to sign.
This and that: Closer Al Reyes is a perfect 9-for-9 in save situations, one shy of Danys Baez's 2004 club record for most consecutive saves to start a season; only the Brewer's Francisco Cordero has more saves this season (10) without a blown save. ... Left-hander Jon Switzer (left-shoulder tendinitis) pitched an inning in extended Spring Training Tuesday.
Up next: The Rays and Twins will wrap up their three-game series Thursday night in a 7:10 ET contest at Tropicana Field. Right-hander James Shields will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Ramon Ortiz.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.