09/24/08 8:44 PM ET
Percival leaving role up to Rays
Veteran wants what's best for club; Maddon counting on health
By Amanda Comak / MLB.com
Percival, who has been hampered by injuries during the second half of the season, hasn't pitched since Sunday against the Twins. The Rays' veteran closer has struggled during the second half, working to a a 6.89 ERA with nine saves in 19 appearances after a highly successful first half where he had a 3.54 ERA with 19 saves in 29 appearances.
"Everything was good," Percival said of the treatments he received in St. Petersburg. "[My back] is good as it can be. It feels better than the first time they did it. ... Health-wise, I think I'll be fine. It's up to them for what they want to do to give them the best opportunity to win."
"When I woke up this morning, my flexibility was even better than it was the last time," he added. "So I'm hoping to be able to go out and throw the ball. And if not, sure I'll be disappointed. But I'm here to help this team and hope that we can put the best team out there to win the World Series."
Manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday that he'd love to see Percival back out on the mound for the Rays, but only if he can be assured of the right-hander's health.
"If he's able to go and pitch effectively, no question, we'll be a better ballclub if he's out there," Maddon said. "We'll just see how he feels. Even though he's not playing tonight, with a day game in Detroit tomorrow, he's going through a lot of plane travel with a back situation so you have to be cognizant of that, but I'd like to try to get him out twice if we can."
Maddon and Percival have been through a lot together, tracing back to their days in Anaheim with the Angels. That relationship, though, Maddon said, has nothing to do with the manager's assessment of his pitcher's ability on the mound.
"I love the man, I always have, but when it comes down to it we've got to do what's best for the Rays, period," Maddon said. "When I make that decision, there can't be any kind of nostalgic thoughts wafting through my mind -- it's just a matter of doing the right thing at that moment ... it has nothing to do with our relationship whether to leave him in the game or not."
Percival has been the victim of scrutiny in front of the home crowd recently, with the veteran hurler hearing boos from the fans at home, likely attributed to his second half struggles. Percival responded to those boos on Wednesday by saying that he has never given anything less than his best effort on the mound.
"I'm here for the team," Percival said. "And if I'm not the best option to go out there, then I shouldn't be out there. That's up to them. I don't listen to what other people say. They don't know what I've gone through going out there trying to get the job done.
"I've done the best that I can every time I go out there. ... The first half, I felt good and I threw well and I battled injuries the whole second half. Right now, I'm just feeling like I'm back and able to be productive again. ... I'm going to go out there and pitch and if they like what they see then, I'll be out there to help the team."
Amanda Comak is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.