Maddon: Progress will earn a new deal

Skipper not concerned

Published March 4, 2007

DUNEDIN - Any concerns about Joe Maddon going into the last year of his contract without an extension won't reach the manager's office.

"My contract extension is a non-issue," Maddon said Saturday. "I believe I am going to be here for a very long time. I really like the people I work with. I think we have a great thing going on. Even if you have a multiyear contract, it doesn't guarantee that you're going to be anywhere the next year. ...

"If I do a good job, I will be back. If I don't, I will not. And that's the way it should be. And what does it mean to do a good job? In this situation now, you cannot equate that by wins and losses. It's about if we're seeing progress within the group."

Maddon signed a two-year deal with an unconventional two-year option. The Rays have a date, believed to be in early September, by which they have to decide on the option. They seem likely to wait until then as a matter of procedure. But, with principal owner Stuart Sternberg saying he is "extremely" happy with Maddon's work, they seem likely to bring him back and maintain continuity, unless something goes unexpectedly wrong.

"I want another contract; absolutely I do," Maddon said. "When all of our people perceive it's the right moment, that's good for me."

RAYS RUMBLINGS: David Pygman, who does radio and voice-over work in Indiana, is the new Trop public address man and debuts at the March 31 exhibition. ... ESPN's report on Dominican players banned from the United States due to a marriage-for-visas scam includes INF Salvador Paredes, who played at rookie-level Princeton in 2002-03 and Class A Hudson Valley in 2004. ... Nice gesture by LF Carl Crawford to donate about $100,000 and his time to West Tampa Little League's field renovation project. ... Former Rays prospect OF Josh Hamilton is likely to return to Progress Energy Park on Tuesday with the Reds. ... Among changes at the Trop, the Beach is now the tbt* Party Deck and leftfield picnic area the Floridasbeach.com Sandbar. More interesting are 2008 plans to build an outdoor concourse for fans to gather, eat and drink before and after games. ... The Rays will close their WestShore Plaza team store at the end of March but establish a ticket/merchandise presence elsewhere in Tampa. ... Still deciding which of ESPN's Steve Phillips' recent extreme makeover suggestions made less sense - trading CF Rocco Baldelli and RHP Tim Corcoran to the Marlins for LHP Dontrelle Willis, trading 2B Jorge Cantu to Atlanta for LHP Chuck James, trading INF B.J. Upton to Milwaukee for RHP Derrick Turnbow, or moving the team to San Antonio, Texas, and renaming it the Saints. ... Yankees SS Derek Jeter complained Friday about the condition of the Progress Energy Park infield, telling N.Y. reporters, "They have a lot of young players, and they are going to get into bad habits like backing up (on grounders)."

WELL-STOCKED: The Rays have seven players (second to Colorado) on Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list, including five in the top 37. OF Delmon Young is No. 3 (behind Boston Japanese import Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kansas City's Alex Gordon), 3B Evan Longoria No. 7, SS Reid Brignac No. 17, RHP Jeff Niemann No. 35, LHP Jake McGee No. 37, OF Elijah Dukes No. 79 and RHP Wade Davis No. 97. The biggest surprises are how high Longoria, with just half a pro season, was ranked, and that RHP Mitch Talbot, whom the Rays think could get to the majors this season, was not. Longoria said he was honored and proud to be that high, but "it doesn't really mean anything."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8801.

Fast Facts:


Roster report

The second of our weekly guesses on the makeup of the 25-man opening day roster:

Pitchers (12): Shawn Camp, Casey Fossum, Edwin Jackson, Scott Kazmir, Ruddy Lugo, Seth McClung, Dan Miceli, Al Reyes-x, Jeff Ridgway, Jae Seo, James Shields, Brian Stokes.

Catchers (2): Dioner Navarro, Josh Paul

Infielders (6): Jorge Cantu, Akinori Iwamura, Greg Norton, B.J. Upton, Ty Wigginton, Ben Zobrist

Outfielders (5): Rocco Baldelli, Carl Crawford, Elijah Dukes, Jonny Gomes, Delmon Young