08/29/12 7:46 PM ET
Rays refuse to allow finger-pointing in clubhouse
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Many times this kind of situation can lead to a division between the different factions on a team. That has not happened in the Rays' clubhouse.
"I think there's such a good feeling among the group that they're able to balance that," manager Joe Maddon said. "Of course, the pitchers have had such a good year, and the position players are rebounding right now."
On many occasions this season, the starting pitchers put forth solid efforts only to see errors or a lack of offense lead to a loss or no-decision. Yet there has not been any finger-pointing.
"I think our pitchers are mature enough to understand the whole thing," Maddon said. "Not only the starters, but some relievers, guys that have been around a little bit that I think would say, 'That's not how we do things around here. That's not how this game works.'"
Matt Joyce credits the pitching staff for being "remarkable" in how well they have remained focus.
"They've never said one word about us struggling or whether or not we were providing runs," Joyce said. "And that's probably one of the [reasons] why they've been so successful. They've been concentrating on what they have to do and what their job is instead of worrying about something they can't control."
Maddon pointed out that the Rays have had more of a balanced act in the second half of the season, an improvement that coincided with the team going through what Maddon referred to as a "Spring Training week," when the Rays played 10 games at home and went through fundamental drills throughout that week.
"Even though we weren't highly successful, win-wise, we started playing better baseball," he said. "That was the residue of that 10 games. We started playing better defensively. And, of course, the offense started clicking when everybody came back. But we were a better baseball team fundamentally after the break. So I think that helped a little bit."
Since the All-Star break, the defense has come back strong and the offense has been much improved. And the pitching has continued to chug along, rock solid.
James Shields took a tough 1-0 loss on Tuesday night -- the Rays' fourth 1-0 loss of August -- but he shrugged and noted that games like those are going to happen, adding that pointing fingers never works.
"We're in it for the long haul as a team," Shields said. "It's kind of a cliché, but you win as a team and you lose as a team. That's the way we treat things. You've got to have both sides of the coin working. If you cause turmoil in the clubhouse, it doesn't work out. Joe [Maddon] always says you're accountable for your own actions. The sooner you can accept that, the better off our team is going to be."
And despite Tuesday's loss, Shields noted that the team has been playing well.
"Overall, we've been playing really good baseball. The last couple of games have been disappointing, but we've been playing really good baseball, and if we can stay consistent like that the rest of the year, we're good," he said.
Maddon not worried about struggling Pena
ARLINGTON -- The struggling Carlos Pena, who struck out four times in the Rays' 1-0 loss on Tuesday, went into Joe Maddon's office after the game and talked with his manager for approximately 30 minutes.
"I still believe he's expanding his strike zone too much, and we talked about that. We also talked about the fact he has a tendency to beat himself up," said Maddon, who noted that they talked about non-baseball subjects as well.
Maddon noted that he's trying to get Pena's mind off the numbers the first baseman sees on the scoreboard every time he steps to the plate.
"[Without] the defenses playing the way that they play today and the way things work, [against] a conventional defense, [Pena would be] hitting over .200 right now," Maddon said. "I understand he has not played up to his expectations, nor ours, to this point, but there are a lot of compounding moments here, a lot of negative complementary things here that are in place."
Maddon recalled seeing Mo Vaughn go through a similar experience when he played for the Angels and defenses began to shift against him.
"All of a sudden, he's hitting against this shift, and it gets into your head a little bit," Maddon said. "And thus you can draw some wrong conclusions, is my point."
Maddon went through several other theories before he cut to the chase about Pena: "His confidence has taken a hit based on a lot of well-struck balls being outs. That's the best way I can describe it. But that's just the way it is for a lot of lefties in the game today who are of that ilk."
Rays sending eight to Arizona Fall League
ARLINGTON -- Rosters for Arizona Fall League teams were announced Wednesday; Rays players will join others from the Athletics, Braves, Brewers and Marlins to make up the roster of the Phoenix Desert Dogs.
Representing the Rays organization will be right-handers Kirby Yates and Lenny Linsky; left-handers Chris Rearick and C.J. Riefenshauser; infielders Tim Beckham, Hak-Ju Lee and Richie Shaffer; and outfielder Kevin Kiermaier.
Hitting coach Steve Livesey and trainer Chris Tomashoff will also be working with the Desert Dogs.
The last five American League teams to finish a season with an ERA as low as the Rays' (3.27) all advanced to the World Series: the 1990 Athletics (3.18), 1989 Athletics (3.09), 1981 Yankees (2.90), 1979 Orioles (3.26) and 1978 Yankees (3.18).
Matt Joyce left Tuesday night's game with a strained left forearm and was not in the lineup on Wednesda, though he said the arm felt better. Manager Joe Maddon said that Joyce could be back in the lineup by Thursday.
If closer Fernando Rodney notches a save in his next outing, he will have 40 for the season. Rodney currently leads all Major League relievers with a 0.77 ERA. According to Stats Inc., if he earns the 40th save with an ERA under 1.00, he would become the fourth pitcher in Major League history to boast a sub-1.00 ERA at the time of his 40th save.
J.P. Howell has a club-record scoreless-innings streak of 26 2/3, but the southpaw was passed on Tuesday night by Atlanta's Kris Medlen for the longest active streak in the Major Leagues; Medlen is now at 28 1/3.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.