tampabay.com

Time to see some results

Maddon wants his players in regular season form.

By BY MARC TOPKIN
Published March 20, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - Manager Joe Maddon wanted the Devil Rays to enjoy their day off Monday. And he wants them to come back to work today serious, requesting, after a 3-16 start, they take more of a regular-season approach to the final 12 exhibitions.

Maddon, who hinted he'll unveil a new lineup today, plans to play the frontline players more often, and play them together more. And though he has taken some blame for their poor offense as a result of his request that the players adapt a more patient, grind-it-out approach at the plate, he also wants to see them do better.

"The biggest thing is, 'We've thrown lots of different information out at you guys. I want you to go out there and play to win, and in the meantime try to incorporate all this different stuff and try to build momentum for the beginning of the season in an attempt to get off to a good start,' " Maddon said.

"Offensively, I want to see the same group out there a little more often and see if all the stuff we've been talking about, if we could actually turn it into a win."

Pitchers will continue to be used this week on more of a structured basis as the Rays narrow the field for the fifth starter's job and two spots in the bullpen. Next week, Maddon said they are likely to use the relievers in more matchup situations.

"We've still got to look at people and give them a chance," Maddon said. "We've got to be careful to get some guys work while we're still doing some evaluating."

SIXTEEN TO GO: The Rays reduced their spring roster to 41 by optioning INF Joel Guzman to Triple-A Durham. Guzman, the one-time top prospect acquired in July from the Dodgers, impressed the Rays this spring with his defense at third (though he hit just .138) and will play there for the Bulls.

FLEX SCHEDULING: After this afternoon's game, the Rays play three consecutive night games, making six for the spring. "I'm not a big fan of all the night games in the spring," Maddon said. "I think that really messes up your program a lot. ... It makes for a difficult work schedule."

It will be even more difficult next week. After Saturday's game, they have to move from Progress Energy Park to Tropicana Field to make room for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, then play six consecutive road games.

MISCELLANY: With a spot in the rotation assured, RHP Jae Seo will pitch in a minor-league game at 1 p.m. at the Naimoli Complex. ... Team president Matt Silverman is the featured speaker at 7 tonight at Temple Ahavat Shalom (1575 Curlew Road, Palm Harbor); admission is $5 for adults. ... Saturday's game with the Red Sox is sold out.