3/7/2014 2:50 P.M. ET
Rays staying motivated amid smooth start
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Everything seems to be going the Rays' way this spring, from the team's health to the way it is playing. That early excellence prompted a question to Joe Maddon regarding whether he was worried his team was looking too good entering Friday's game.
From his response, the Rays manager clearly has no problem with his team playing well.
"No, from the very beginning when you have the first meetings with the guys, then you have the individual meetings, it's such an accountable group of guys," Maddon said. "...They're motivated, and they're good. We have good guys here. I'm not concerned.
"I anticipated a pretty good camp, a smooth camp. The win-loss record is nice and all that, but I'm talking about their work -- it's really, really wonderful. And communication is good. They're open, and that's what makes it really exciting."
Rays pitchers have highlighted the team's glow, but Maddon also had nice words for Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, Matt Joyce, Desmond Jennings and Yunel Escobar.
"The pitching's been wonderful; we actually have two errors, but it's listed as one," Maddon said. "But that's pretty darn good. ... At-bats continue to get better. You see Zobrist with a stiff back, come back and hit the ball well. Longo looks pretty good with his setup. Matty Joyce is hitting the ball hard. Jennings. Escobar's been all over everything. ... Conversationally there's a quiet confidence among the group and I kind of like that."
Maddon views replay as evolving process
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Joe Maddon is still sizing up instant replay. Friday marked the first game the Rays had played with the new process, and the club's manager indicated a belief that much was yet to unfold.
"I think the what-ifs are almost limitless," Maddon said before the game. "And that's the part people don't even understand. When you open Pandora's Box, it's not as cut and dried as you think."
Maddon noted that regardless of how instant replay was designed to be implemented, he saw it as "a fluid and living organism that can be changed at any moment" and that will be up for interpretation.
"I know there's going to be some definites written down, but there's still going to be some gray that's going to pop up that's not been thought about or interpreted differently at the moment," Maddon said. "So it's not about gaming anything. It's about doing it for the first time and trying to not leave anything up to discretion."
Maddon stressed that he wanted to make sure the Rays do all they could to prevent the interpretation of an instant replay from costing them a game.
Maddon says Myers in mix to be regular DH
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Wil Myers batted third in the order Friday while being used as the Rays' DH against the Blue Jays.
The Rays' situation at DH has been well documented this spring because the club does not have a true DH in camp as it had the past several years. The team has not had much luck using a full-time DH, so it has opted to go with a DH rotation this season. Rays manager Joe Maddon has noted that the slot would offer regulars in the lineup the chance to have a day off their feet while still getting their at-bats.
Maddon also said Myers could be counted on to be used regularly at DH.
"Part of it is, he doesn't mind," Maddon said. "You've got young players who really don't mind doing that. Just the mental part helps. They're not fighting it. They still would do it anyway, but the acceptance and willingness to do it helps somewhat."
Myers' defense still needs some tweaking, too, so the Rays are working to find a balance between using Myers at DH and in the field this spring.
"We're doing a lot of work [with Myers in the field]," Maddon said. "Drill work during camp, and he's already started to make some pretty good adjustments, I think."
• Maddon on Friday was asked to assess the American League East, and he noted that all teams needed to watch out for Toronto, which was forecast by many to win the division in 2013 before it finished last.
"The team that's really interesting is this one, because nobody's talking about Toronto this year," Maddon said while pointing to the Blue Jays taking batting practice. "And I think be heads up, because nobody's talking about them this year. And I think they'd probably prefer it that way."
As for the rest of the AL East, Maddon surmised: "It is what it is every year, and I kind of like it. I really do. I think it brings out the best in all of us. I love playing in our division. There are no pushovers."
• Juan Carlos Oviedo has still not reported to camp. The Dominican right-hander continues to fight visa issues, while countrymen Wilson Betemit and Juan Sandoval -- who also were delayed -- have arrived.
"Oviedo, it's kind of funny, Sandoval was able to get out, Betemit was able to get out, and we're still waiting for Oviedo," Maddon said. "... Honestly, I'm not concerned. If he's throwing, I'm not concerned. He needs to get here relatively soon to get enough games in. [But] he could be doing sim games down there, and he'll be fine also if he gets enough pops on the mound."
• Minor Leaguer Cameron Seitzer accompanied the Rays to Dunedin on Friday for their game against the Blue Jays. Seitzer is a son of Kevin Seitzer, who played 12 seasons in the Major Leagues with the Royals, the Brewers, the A's and the Indians, and he is now the hitting coach for the Blue Jays, which allowed for a reunion before the game.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.