3/28/2014 4:27 P.M. ET
Rays to keep themed road trip tradition going
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Themed road trips have been one of the more colorful norms for the Rays since 2008, when they had three such trips in their first winning/playoff season.
Last year, the Rays had five such trips including letter jackets, college football jerseys, all-white, camouflage and the accidental preppie.
Rays manager Joe Maddon likes to have fun, which is his nature. But he also believes that fun leads to his teams being relaxed, and thus, the players are able to perform better.
Maddon tipped his hand on Friday regarding two trips in the works for 2014. One will be a "Woodstock" trip when the team goes to Seattle. Another will be a tuxedo trip to an as-yet-to-be-determined destination.
"I think a tuxedo trip, because that's kind of the antithesis of who we are," said Maddon noting that the team generally dresses in jeans and T shirts. "Definitely insist on jeans and sneakers to accent the tux. So I'm working on a proper date for that. ... I already have mine."
Bedard re-signs with Rays on Minor League pact
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Rays have re-signed Erik Bedard to a Minor League deal. The veteran left-hander will report to Triple-A Durham.
"Great to have him back in the fold," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I really think he can come up big for us at some point this year. I've said it many times -- just getting to know him at camp, this guy definitely fits in to what we're trying to do around here. And I'm happy about that."
After losing out in his bid to win the fifth spot in the rotation, Bedard elected to look for another Major League job, so the Rays gave him his release. Maddon said he was surprised Bedard did not find a job.
"He's still got a lot left, there's no question about that," Maddon said. "He just needs a little more time to sharpen up. And having him at Triple-A is good for us."
Veteran infielder Mike Fontenot also was signed to a Minor League deal on Friday after he was released by the Nationals. Fontenot was in Rays camp last spring and played in 120 games at Triple-A Durham during the regular season.
"That's great," Maddon said. "You know all that kind of stuff counts. That kid's outstanding. Loved him last year in camp. I was told last year in Triple-A he had a tremendous impact on the players. The staff there was raving about him."
Maddon offers perspective on Miggy, deal
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera's record-setting contract extension was front and center on Friday, when the Rays visited Joker Marchant Stadium to play the Tigers.
The agreement extends Cabrera's current contract through at least 2023. Published reports estimate the value of the extension to be $248 million guaranteed. The pact includes vesting options for two additional years at $30 million each.
"Good for him," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He's really good. Heads up, Mike Trout."
Asked for perspective on where the Tigers slugger fits in historically, Maddon obliged.
"You could go back to [Barry] Bonds, [Ken] Griffey, the guys I was on the field with, A-Rod," Maddon said. "[Cabrera's] really an exceptional hitter; Edgar Martinez.
"There are probably about 10 guys, if you sat down pencil to paper, that play in another stratosphere. There are some guys that I thought would do that. Like when [Travis] Hafner had a couple of good years, I thought he was in that league, and it kind of went away from him for a bit. But I think a lot of that was injury-induced. But I think for the most part, guys that have been able to do that for a period of time."
Maddon expanded on why Cabrera is such an offensive force.
"He's such a good hitter, because he'll use this side of the field," said Maddon pointing to right field. "And the moment you begin to play into the fact that he's using this side and you try to do something differently, then the ball goes far that way." Maddon pointed to left field. "He's really good about -- I don't know if I want to use the word guessing -- but setting you up, in a sense.
"And furthermore, with really good hitters, when they see their pitch they hit it. They don't foul it off, they don't miss it. They hit it hard and they hit it fair, and that's what the really good hitters do."
Maddon noted that he did not find the money Cabrera signed for baffling, but he said: "It's incredible regarding where these numbers have ascended to. I want to believe that it speaks to the solvency of the game in some ways. And particularly to the Detroit franchise. It speaks well to all of that, I think."
Spring Training productive endeavor for Rays
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Rays manager Joe Maddon could not think of much that his 2014 squad has not accomplished during Spring Training.
"There's still some things, outfield-wise, that I want to tie up," Maddon said. "Otherwise, the number of at-bats have been good per player. Pitchers got their innings in. Relievers have gone two innings in a row."
He also noted that, instructionally, "We got the message out there pretty well this year."
Maddon is satisfied with what he has done as well.
"I've been so locked in with the process this camp, I've been really pleased with that," Maddon said. "I've been able to keep my focus and I'm really going to challenge myself to do that during the season also.
"There's a tendency for all of us, sometimes, you want to become a fan during the game. You get hung up on the outcome, and you can't, you just have to keep working the game from your perspective."
Maddon allowed that he wants to remain locked in, thus he is challenging himself "to become even more process-oriented than I have been in the past" for the entire season.
When asked, Maddon could not come up with any real surprises from this year's camp.
"Maybe some of the young guys," Maddon said. "I've heard about them and how good they actually showed up. [C.J.] Riefenhauser, saw [Adam] Liberatore again yesterday, [Brad] Boxberger in the deal, [Logan] Forsythe for the first time. Not really surprises, just kind of pleasantly pleased to see.
"I mean, these guys are good. So you hear about the acquisitions in meetings. But to actually see them perform, they're good."
Tampa Bay will have sellout crowd for home opener
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Rays' 2014 season opener on Monday at Tropicana Field against the Blue Jays is sold out, marking the ninth consecutive season for which Tampa Bay has sold out the home opener.
Tickets remain available for the three remaining games in the season-opening series vs. the Blue Jays and the three-game weekend series vs. the Rangers.
The first Tampa Bay Times Ticket Tandem giveaway, a special-edition Rays Wall Banner, will be available at the game on April 4. Ticket Tandems include a ticket to the game plus an exclusive promotional item, which can only be claimed through this offer. For Ticket Tandem details, visit raysbaseball.com/tandems.
On April 5, the first 20,000 fans will receive a Wil Myers Rookie of the Year commemorative bobblehead presented by Sagicor Life Insurance Company, and on April 6, kids 14 and under will receive a Desmond Jennings Baseball Buddy presented by Match-Up Promotions. Kids can run the bases and are invited to join the DJ Kitty Kids Party in the outfield following Sunday's game.
Single-game tickets for home games are available at raysbaseball.com, all Ticketmaster outlets, the Rays Tampa Store (400 N. Tampa St.) and the Gate 1 Tropicana Field Box Office, as well as over the phone at 888-FAN-RAYS.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.