3/2/2014 7:01 P.M. ET
McGee works to add effective curveball to arsenal
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jake McGee continues to work on a curveball that he plans to use as his offspeed pitch this season. The hard-throwing left-hander threw a scoreless frame on Saturday against the Pirates in which he allowed no hits, no runs and no walks, striking out one.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Sunday that McGee's curveball looked "good" in the outing.
"You know, Jake can really spin a ball," Maddon said. "Even a couple of years ago when I first saw him, I thought that curveball had some potential, but you hear otherwise. It was a hard pitch for him to command. He might be a little more mature in how to gain a feel for it and understand it doesn't always have to be this magnificent curveball. It can just be a get-me-over curveball, a different look. Thrown in the right count and the hitter's not looking for it, you can pick up a nice strike here and there and put another thought in the hitter's head.
"That's what you're trying to do. It's not just about burying that nasty curveball. There are different degrees of an effective curveball."
Even without a secondary pitch, McGee is pretty impressive throwing just a fastball, which is understandable since his heater is of the 97-mph variety. But developing the pitch could serve as a real plus for the left-hander.
"Moving down the road, I've always felt that when his fastball is right about belly-button high and he's going to get a lot of swing-throughs, I kind of like that," Maddon said. "But there's going to be days when he doesn't have all of that going on. And just to throw something else [is important], and it's got to be a strike once in a while or the hitter's just going to say 'forget about it.'
"To gain a feel for that pitch as a strike then takes a little pressure off the other pitch. More thought in the hitter's head, and he becomes more difficult to face."
Maddon talks football, baseball with Kaepernick
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- After Saturday afternoon's game against the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla., Joe Maddon attended a fundraiser in Tampa, where he met San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Of course, Maddon played quarterback at Lafayette College, which prompted the question of whether he happened to mention that fact to Kaepernick.
"I did, I dropped it on him," the Rays manager said with a smile.
The response prompted team spokesman Rick Vaughn to tease, "What a shock."
Once the resulting laughter stopped, Maddon went on to tell reporters that after going "there briefly" with Kaepernick, "we continued on and then we talked about him a little bit."
"He's really a nice fellow, easy to speak with," said Maddon, noting that he invited Kaepernick to visit with the Rays any time. "... Really a very nice young man."
Kaepernick once was a promising pitcher, which convinced the Cubs to take a chance on him with the 43rd pick of the 2009 Draft. Obviously, he chose to go another direction by choosing to pursue a football career. Could Maddon coax a couple of future innings here and there out of the strong-armed quarterback?
"Apparently he's been clocked as high as 94 or 95 [mph]," Maddon said. "We talked about that briefly, also. ... He'd be a free agent right now. He's got a great pitcher's body. He's really tall."
Maddon smiled when asked if Kaepernick talk might be considered tampering.
"I don't know what the legal ramifications are," Maddon teased. "It might be. I hope [general manager] Andrew [Friedman] doesn't get fined for all of this."
New catcher Hanigan brings winning attitude
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Ryan Hanigan is happy to be with the Rays, based in large part to the team's winning ways in recent years. Tampa Bay has posted six consecutive winning seasons and advanced to the playoffs in four of those seasons.
Hanigan's hunger for winning isn't something new, though. The Rays' new catcher got a pretty good taste of being in the win column while with the Reds, who have recorded 90-plus wins in three of the last four seasons.
"That's something I was proud of to be a part of," Hanigan said. "I feel like once that 2010 season hit, we took it to a different level as a team. Making the playoffs then two out of the next three years, we had a chance to do the same thing. We had a chance to win some games and establish a winning mentality and tradition over there, at least the last five years. This team's got a lot of that, and even a longer streak in regards to having that kind of organization."
Hanigan believes that winning is a habit.
"Learning how to win and how you're going to play together as a team is important," Hanigan said. "Just having that mentality as an organization from the guys that have been here, they really filter that expect-to-win type of attitude. And that can take you a long way -- the confidence that you expect to get it done and when you don't get it done, you aren't happy. You aren't satisfied."
The Rays announced Sunday that they have agreed to terms with the following 20 players for 2014: Chris Archer, Tim Beckham, Jeff Beliveau, Vince Belnome, Brad Boxberger, Alex Cobb, Alex Colome, Logan Forsythe, Brandon Gomes, Brandon Guyer, Desmond Jennings, Nathan Karns, Kevin Kiermaier, Hak-Ju Lee, Josh Lueke, Mike Montgomery, Jake Odorizzi, C.J. Riefenhauser, Enny Romero and Kirby Yates. The Rays renewed the contract of Wil Myers.
Every member of the 40-man roster is now under contract for 2014.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.