06/22/10 8:51 PM ET
Shields set to make start on Wednesday
By Bill Chastain and Adam Berry / MLB.com
Manager Joe Maddon had previously mentioned the possibility of flip-flopping the starts of Shields and Matt Garza, but the situation resolved itself thanks to Monday's off-day and Shields not throwing another bullpen session. Instead, the right-hander replaced his side session with the 13-pitch outing in which he picked up the win against the Marlins.
"Status quo. Shields is fine. He's had plenty of rest since the inning of relief, so we didn't want to mess with it," Maddon said. "[We] just wanted to make sure coming out today, see how he felt. He feels good, so we're staying pat.
"The off-day helps a little bit. [We] pushed it back an extra day. Without the off-day, we may have done something different."
Shields said he was feeling "really good" after the confidence-boosting relief appearance. He skipped a planned side session on Saturday, which ended up allowing him to enter the game when Maddon said he would pitch after closer Rafael Soriano, and between warming up and taking the mound, he threw enough pitches to make up for the lack of a separate bullpen session.
"If I would have had another bullpen [session], that means I'm not throwing tomorrow," Shields said. "[It's] just like normal right now. I feel really good. We have the six-day rotation, so it kind of worked out."
Staats makes 5,000th MLB broadcast
ST. PETERSBURG -- Tuesday night's broadcast marked Rays TV broadcaster Dewayne Staats' 5,000th Major League broadcast.
Staats, who has been with the Rays since the team's inaugural season in 1998, broadcast his first game in 1976, when he got to fill in on the Astros' network during a game between the Astros and Cubs at Wrigley Field. The native of Missouri went on to work for the Astros, Cubs, Yankees and ESPN before joining the Rays.
When asked about his career highlights, Staats first talked of the Rays' unforgettable 2008 season that saw the team go from last in the American League East in 2007 to the World Series a year later.
"You know, '08 here was special," Staats said. "The whole season. Magic happened all the time. I thought, out of all of that, [Ben] Zobrist hitting the home run against A.J. Burnett after the All-Star break against the Blue Jays -- because the team had struggled going into the break -- so for him to hit that home run and for them to win that game, I thought was really big. I thought Dan Johnson's home run against [Jonathan] Papelbon still might be the biggest home run of the franchise. All of those things in that season."
Other career highlights inculde Nolan Ryan's fifth no-hitter -- which came in 1981 against the Dodgers and broke a tie with Sandy Koufax, who had four career no-hitters -- Jim Abbott's no-hitter for the Yankees in 1993, the first night game at Wrigley Field and Wade Boggs' 3,000th hit.
"Wade being the only guy to hit a home run for his 3,000th hit here," Staats said. "That was, until this team won, the iconic moment of the franchise."
Staats is also in a unique position every time Dan Wheeler pitches since Wheeler is married to his daughter, Stephanie, and the couple are the parents of his two grandsons, Gabriel and Zachary.
"That's a special arrangement there," Staats said. "When [Wheeler] came over here, I picked him up at the airport after he got traded back here. I said, 'Well, you do your job and I'll do mine,' and that's kind of the way we approach this thing. But I will admit, it's different than when anybody else comes in.
"As much as you try and push it out of your mind and make it the same as everybody else, it's different. And I think I've probably erred on the side of caution with him, in that it's easier to talk about how another pitcher has excelled, and a little restrained there. Like, if you have your kid on your Little League team, you might be a little harder on him -- not lavish him with all of that praise. But it's a great privilege to have him here."
Staats called it a "good question" when asked if he had another 5,000 games in him, and referred to one of his old broadcast partners.
"Harry Caray once told me you should never admit how many games you've done once you get up into the thousands, because that's when they want to retire you," Staats said. "I get it now. But as long as they invite me, I'll keep showing up. And I think that I've got enough firepower to show up at a few more games."
Rays struggling against top NL pitchers
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays may resemble a National League team in many regards, as manager Joe Maddon has often stated, but Maddon doesn't think that's the reason NL teams are finding more success against Tampa Bay this year.
Instead, Maddon said before Tuesday's game, the Rays' 5-7 record in Interleague Play is simply a product of their struggles against high-caliber pitching, and the edge NL clubs gain by being more familiar with Tampa Bay's style is negligible.
"I don't know that it presents a definite advantage. I don't think so. The last couple years, we've done a really good job against the National League," Maddon said. "This year, the difference to me has been that we've been pitched at well from the other side, and we have not responded to it. The last couple years that we've done better against the National League, we've been better offensively."
Maddon pointed specifically to Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson and Braves starters Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson, all of whom the Rays faced on their past road trip, as examples of the team's struggles. All three picked up the win in their respective starts, and Tampa Bay scored two total runs in their 22 innings of work.
"Primarily, we did not do well against good starting pitching," Maddon said. "Hanson, Hudson and Johnson really stifled us, and that's where the road trip got away from us."
Maddon said he thought opposing pitchers were throwing to the Rays basically the same way they were earlier in the season, but his team's hitters have gotten away from the approach that made them so successful earlier this season -- something hitting coach Derek Shelton addressed in a talk with the position players this week.
"The other day, Shelton spoke to them specifically -- I'm talking about the offensive players -- just to rehash all the concepts that we came out of Spring Training with, that were working so well early on," Maddon said. "I want us to get back thinking the way we thought earlier. But again, we've seen a lot of good pitching, and we're going to continue to see a lot of good pitching."
Rays manager Joe Maddon elected to go with Dioner Navarro at catcher Tuesday night for two reasons: Navarro's defensive skill behind the plate will likely be a necessity against a fast team on the basepaths like the Padres, and Maddon believes he matches up well with San Diego right-hander Mat Latos. ... The Rays signed two more picks from their 2010 First-Year Player Draft class, inking deals with first baseman Phil Wunderlich, their 12th-round selection, and second baseman Scott Lawson, who was taken in the 29th round. Tampa Bay has now signed 20 of its 53 picks. ... A few of the Rays' recent Draft picks are already making their debuts in the club's Minor League System. Rays second-rounder Derek Dietrich went 1-for-4 and scored two runs while stealing a base, but he recorded his fourth error in as many games for Class A Hudson Valley. Right-hander Nate Garcia, a 16th-rounder, picked up the win for the Renegades, throwing two relief innings and allowing only one hit and one walk. Justin O'Conner, one of the team's first-round picks, started at designated hitter Tuesday night for the Gulf Coast League Rays.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.