04/14/11 11:25 PM ET
Damon sets obscure record with walk-off
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Damon is the first player in Major League history to hit a walk-off home run for five different teams.
He first turned the trick for the Royals on April 10, 2000, when he homered off Minnesota's LaTroy Hawkins in the ninth inning at Kansas City.
The next one came while wearing a Red Sox uniform on April 26, 2002, when he connected against Scot Shields of the Angels in the 10th inning at Fenway Park.
Damon's third walk-off occurred in the Bronx when he homered for the Yankees against Minnesota's Jesse Crain in the 10th inning at Yankee Stadium.
Damon had two walk-off homers for the Tigers last season. Shields became his victim for the second time on May 1 in the ninth inning of a Tigers win over the Angels. On July 6, he homered against the Orioles' David Hernandez in the 11th inning.
Finally, Thursday night's blast gave Damon his third walk-off homer against the Twins, but his first while wearing a Rays uniform.
Bullpen getting work during Rays' slow start
ST. PETERSBURG -- One by-product of the Rays getting off to a slow start has been allowing the new bullpen to get its collective feet wet before getting thrown into significant game situations.
Kelly Shoppach recently pointed out that it's human nature for any player who is new to a team to try and do more than he can initially. New to the Rays' bullpen -- and new to the organization -- are Adam Russell, Juan Cruz, Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta and Cesar Ramos.
"For me, I've just been getting more and more comfortable as I keep throwing," said Ramos, who has a 2.25 ERA in six appearances. "It's just one of those things, we don't have too much experience. And the only way to get experience is to keep on going out there. You just have the mindset that it doesn't matter if we're up or behind, you still have to attack the hitter."
Russell, who is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in six appearances, said he "never put too much stock into that" line of thinking about easing into the job.
"Personally, I'm ready to go every time," Russell said. "But it had to be a little bit easier that we didn't have any hold or save opportunities the first few games. We were able to go out there and pitch without a lot of stress on ourselves. I think any one of us can do the job. I'm extremely happy with the way this bullpen is looking so far. And I think everyone is doing a great job."
Entering the season, the bullpen was cast as the Rays' weakest link. Russell chuckled when reminded of that fact.
"Every team's got something the media wants to point a finger at before the season," Russell said. "We really didn't care. We're all professionals here. We know what we need to do to get the job done. We know what we need to do to get outs. The sooner we get on there, the sooner we get off, the better job we did."
Russell laughed again when reminded of the fact that he has one of the team's four wins, so in theory, he has accounted for a fourth of the team's victories.
"I've been hassling the starters a little bit about that," Russell said. "But we'll take wins whatever way we can get them. A win's a win."
Maddon honors MacDill Air Force Base
ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base will celebrate its 70th birthday on Saturday and the Rays will host a party in its honor at Tropicana Field when they play the Twins at 4:10 p.m. ET, a game nationally telecast on FOX.
Joe Maddon and several of the Rays paid a visit to MacDill several weeks ago and were treated to a tour of the facility along with several demonstrations, leaving the Rays manager quite impressed with the entire operation.
Maddon wears No. 70, so during batting practice prior to Thursday night's game with the Twins, he wore his No. 70 with the name "MacDill" above it on his shoulders rather than "Maddon."
"It was not my idea," Maddon said. "When we went over there the other day with the 70 jersey on and we talked about it. I don't know whose idea it was."
Maddon has permission to wear the jersey during batting practice and he plans to do so for the next several days.
"But I don't know if I'm able to wear it for the game," he said. "I've volunteered to wear it."
According to team spokesman Rick Vaughn, Major League Baseball denied Maddon permission to wear the uniform in the game.
Maddon laughed when reminded about Andy Messersmith wearing No. 17 for the Braves in the 1970s and substituting "Channel" for his name. That's back before TBS became TBS and it was known simply as "Channel 17." Ted Turner, the owner of the Braves, also owned Channel 17. Major League Baseball quickly put an end to Messersmith's change.
Johnson particular about bats' weight
ST. PETERSBURG -- When Dan Johnson grabbed one of his bats early Thursday afternoon, the weight felt off. Minutes later, the Rays first baseman had a bat scale brought out and he weighed his lumber.
Johnson uses a 34-inch, 32 1/2-ounce bat. By weighing his bats, he discovered that several had swelled to 33 1/3 ounces.
Johnson set aside the bats that did not meet his weight qualifications. He explained that he's not a freak about weighing his bats, but the fact that the bat felt heavy prompted him to action. He noted that bats retain moisture, so he figured some of his bats picked up moisture from one of the clubhouses in either Chicago or Boston on the just-completed road trip.
Johnson complimented where the bats are stored at Tropicana Field, in a location that avoids moisture.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.