4/17/2014 6:58 P.M. ET
Maddon, Longoria heap praise on Jeter
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- Yankees shortstop -- and Tampa resident -- Derek Jeter is retiring at the end of the season, and on Thursday night he began his final run of games against the Rays at Tropicana Field, starting at shortstop and hitting second.
The occasion gave manager Joe Maddon and Evan Longoria cause to reflect on Jeter.
"Listen, I don't think it's ever been done where a guy's been a first-ballot unanimous choice [for the Hall of Fame]," Maddon said. "And I can't even understand why he wouldn't be, based on his career, the number of championships that have been won. And to be able to handle that whole moment, as well as in that city, under the scrutiny that he has, I don't know where the negative is. So to have a vote to put somebody in the Hall of Fame and not to exercise that vote for him, I don't know how that happens."
Added Longoria: "It's been fun playing against him. I think, without a doubt, he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the most consistent and best player that I've ever been around and played against. So it's been fun."
Despite hitting woes, Rays not hitting panic button
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays were blanked by the Orioles on Wednesday afternoon in Baltimore, the third time this season they were shut out. And although the team is far from panic mode, Wil Myers was among a group of players taking early batting practice on Thursday afternoon.
Myers, the reigning American League Rookie of the Year, doesn't believe his problems at the plate stem from opposing pitchers adjusting to him.
"No, they're not really pitching me that well, I'm getting myself out," Myers said. "It's just me getting myself out and missing my pitch."
Evan Longoria noted that the batters are hitting the ball hard.
"We're taking good at-bats," Longoria said. "It's just not going our way right now. It's kind of a copout. It's easy to say that we're not getting the breaks and just chalk it up to that, but at a certain point, you have to make your own luck. We have to go up there and continue to grind out at-bats and believe that it's going to happen for us."
Manager Joe Maddon is not one to interfere with how his players treat their individual approaches when it comes to staying sharp.
"I'm really wide open to what a player thinks he needs," Maddon said. "The extra BP kind of stuff, to me, should only be for somebody who is struggling and needs to rework something because there's truly something wrong. And from my perspective, there might be one or two guys that might fall in that category that want or need that right now."
With three members of the Rays' rotation on the disabled list, there has been a lot of talk about the remaining starters putting extra pressure on themselves to deliver well-pitched games. Maddon believes there is a greater threat for the team's hitters trying to do more.
"Just keep moving the conga line," he said. "Get out there, get on base, set it up for the next guy."
Longoria believes that less is more when trying to snap oneself out of an offensive funk.
"I've found that the less you try to care about the results, the more results you get," he said. "If you kind of dumb that down, I'm just trying to go up there and have good at-bats and not worry about what the outcome of the at-bat is. Every one of us wants to go up there and get a hit every time. But the more you start thinking about it, you go 0-for-4, and before you look up and see where you're at, you're 0-for-12.
"You're just worrying about getting a hit every time. So Joe's kind of preached from the beginning to worry about the process, and how you go about your day and getting yourself prepared for the game, and so that's really at the forefront of my mind right now, and should be for all of us."
Zimmer resting comfortably after heart surgery
ST. PETERSBURG -- Don Zimmer, the Rays' senior baseball advisor, underwent more than six hours of surgery on Wednesday to repair a leaky valve in his heart. The Rays reported on Thursday that Zimmer is resting comfortably and is expected to remain in the hospital a few days while he recovers.
Zimmer, who is in his 66th season of professional baseball, has worn 14 Major League uniforms as a player, manager and coach, but he spent the most time in a Rays uniform (11 seasons).
The surgery took place on the same day the Rays wore No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson (a day late because of Tuesday's rainout in Baltimore). Zimmer was a teammate of Robinson's on the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1954-56.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.