08/12/08 11:10 PM ET
Injuries not causing Rays to panic
Losses of Longoria, Crawford just a part of game, players say
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
"It's a big loss, there's no other way to look at it," reliever Dan Wheeler said. "But we have guys on this team that can step in and still produce. I mean, you look at what Willy Aybar did the other day, two home runs in Seattle on Sunday. The good thing about [the reserve players] is they've been playing a lot of innings, getting their at-bats. They're comfortable coming in, so they're not asking too much of these guys. They've already been out there, so it's going to help us in the long run."
Eric Hinske said injuries are a part of the game, but "not usually two of your most prominent players at once."
"It's kind of rare to see that," Hinske added. "All you can do is rely on the depth of the team. ... Just go out there and battle. It's unfortunate, and we're definitely going to miss them. But you've still got to move on and find a way to win ballgames, because we're still in the thick of this. Hopefully they will both get healthy and help us down the stretch."
While Rays fans might be panicking at the loss of Longoria and Crawford, the players are conditioned to accept such losses.
"I think all of us players have been through it a lot in our careers, so we just say, 'OK, he's out. We've got to hold it down until they get back,'" Hinske said. "I think that's all you can do."
Veteran Cliff Floyd said the players need to "take a step back instead of forward" and not try to do too much.
"If there was any time or part of the season we needed to become a team, have unity, it's now," Floyd said. "And everybody has to come together, and we have to really do this as a team. Now it's critical for us now to be really teamy -- that ain't a word -- be just on point a little bit more, without feeling the pressure of, 'Oh, I have to be the man now.' Nobody has to be the man."
Rays manager Joe Maddon doesn't seem to be in a panic mode either.
"You have to deal with what you have on a daily basis," Maddon said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.