04/13/11 9:20 PM ET
Rays to give away Fuld 'Superhero Cape'
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
The Rays outfielder is quick witted, so when asked why he allowed Wednesday's game to be washed out, he quipped: "This is me washing my planet."
The Rays are saluting Fuld with a May 29 promotion entitled "Super Sam Fuld Superhero Cape" giveaway for the 1:40 p.m. ET game against the Indians at Tropicana Field. The cape will be handed out to the first 10,000 kids age 14 and under.
Fuld said the giveaway will be the first in his honor.
"I was maybe close to getting an Iowa Cub T-shirt giveaway, but I didn't even make the cut there," said Fuld, who came to the Rays in a trade that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs.
Fuld leads the American League in stolen bases, and on Monday night, the native of Durham, N.H., made his Fenway Park debut in grand style with four hits, including a home run, triple and two doubles. He is just the fourth New Hampshire born player to homer at Fenway, the first since Boston's Phil Plantier on Oct. 3, 1992, against the Yankees.
Manager Joe Maddon has enjoyed watching the Stanford-educated Fuld become a sensation. Fuld's father, Kenneth, is dean of the college of liberal arts at the University of New Hampshire, while his mother, Amanda Merrill, is a New Hampshire state senator.
"It's been fun to watch," Maddon said. "Just getting to know him, conversationally, and watching him play, the fact that he comes from such an educated background makes it even more interesting, I think. I met his dad, [but] I did not realize [he was a dean]. He's a very nice man. I have not met his mom yet. He's got an unusual background for a Major League Baseball player, and I really enjoy that and that he is that good.
"I've talked about it with a lot of our guys. Sometimes guys just need opportunities, and we've been able to give players opportunities over the last couple of years who have done pretty well for themselves, and I think he's just the next in line."
Fuld grew up a huge Red Sox fan, attending many games as a youth. So playing at Fenway Park this week proved to be dreamland for the 29-year-old.
"I think just that first moment of stepping onto the field in that first inning, I'll never forget that," Fuld said. "The home run was pretty amazing, too. That's going to be hard to forget. That's probably what's going to stand out the most. After that, I was just giddy and everything after that was just icing on the cake. There are so many memories to take away from these two days. It feels like two weeks to me."
Offense heads home feeling confident
BOSTON -- Rays hitters headed home Wednesday feeling a little better about themselves, even though the team's offense has been held to three runs or less in nine of their 11 games.
On Monday night, the Rays busted loose to score 16 runs on 20 hits. Tampa Bay scored only three runs Tuesday, but it came against tough left-hander Jon Lester. The end result has been two consecutive wins.
Hitting coach Derek Shelton noted that the hitters "stayed pretty consistent with our approach."
"I thought the last couple of days in Chicago we actually swung the bats pretty well," Shelton said. "They caught everything. I think we stayed consistent. And I think the one thing we've tried to do is stay as positive as possible, because we know that we're going to have good swings. I think moreso last night than the night we got 16 runs.
"It was good we got some hits that we hadn't gotten. But last night, you're facing one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game. And we did a really good job grinding through some at-bats. I think Dan Johnson had a nine-pitch where he ended up flying out. The fact we were able to make [Jon] Lester work like we did I think is a good sign."
Howell making progress from shoulder surgery
BOSTON -- J.P. Howell, who is in the final stages of his comeback from left shoulder surgery, threw to hitters for the first time on Wednesday in Port Charlotte, Fla.
"He threw well," manager Joe Maddon said. "He ended up throwing 26 pitches, because the 25th one was not a strike, so he wanted to throw another pitch. Good breaking balls. Good sharpness. Everything was sharp. The word was used a lot. Crispy, fastball, breaking ball with good break, looked good, and without any kind of issues. So it was a good day."
Howell will next throw batting practice at Tropicana Field on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
"That one and I'm sure he's going to have to throw one more after that before we send him out to rehab," Maddon said.
Maddon said "you'd like to get to the point where he's back-to-back," but with him, it might not be something we do early on.
"Just really be careful, [because] this guy is really an asset," Maddon said.
In a text message, Howell said he "felt great. [It] was a lot of fun seeing where my stuff was and how it worked with a little adrenalin."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.