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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Former colleagues in Maddon's corner
At this point, it would be a surprise to many people if the Devil Rays don't, in the next month or so, pick up manager Joe Maddon's two-year option.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published July 22, 2007
NEW YORK - At this point, it would be a surprise to many people if the Devil Rays don't, in the next month or so, pick up manager Joe Maddon's two-year option.
Principal owner Stuart Sternberg and executive VP Andrew Friedman said recently that the team's struggles are not Maddon's fault and that they like the work he is doing as well as how he is doing it, particularly his penchant for perpetual positivity.
Two of Maddon's former Angels colleagues, manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher, who spent last season with the Rays, say he is definitely the right man for the job.
"I think he's on the right path," Butcher said. "I saw it last year - it's going to take time, and it's going to take a lot more than two years no matter who it is. If anyone can change an organization, it's Joe Maddon, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I've seen him do it over here when he was a coach when I was coming up through the organization. I've seen him build the Angels organization, and he can build that organization over there. ... And when it's all said and done, with the foundation he's built, I think the results will be there because he's doing it the right way."
Scioscia said Maddon's skill in evaluating talent is key.
"When you're building an organization, which is really what he's trying to do, you're trying to build through philosophies and through the player development system," Scioscia said. "Sometimes the victories are going to be measured in steps instead of miles, and I think Joe understands this, and he's very patient. But make no mistake about it: He's got his finger on the pulse of everything, and I don't think I've run into a better evaluator than Joe.
"At times the process will actually regress a little, but the bottom line is where is that big ball of momentum in the organization rolling? And I think that's what Joe looks at - as long as you're moving in the right direction and you're growing that, you're going to eventually get to your goals."
RAYS RUMBLINGS: As a result of admitting in divorce court last week that he smoked marijuana, as well as previous issues, it seems likely that troubled OF Elijah Dukes will be subject to increased drug testing by Major League Baseball under the "reasonable cause" clause. ... In addition to extensive weight work for the first time in more than two years, CF Rocco Baldelli is working with minor-league strength/conditioning coordinator Trung Cao on shortening his running stride. ... Baseball America ranks Double-A 3B Evan Longoria the game's No. 4 prospect at midseason, with LHP Jake McGee No. 8, RHP Wade Davis No. 11 and SS Reid Brignac No. 25. ... If nothing changes, Red Sox pitching phenom Daisuke Matsuzaka is in line to start July 29 at the Trop. ... SI.com's Jon Heyman had Edwin Jackson a starter and Casey Fossum in the pen on his No-Star team. ... Don't think Bucs coach Jon Gruden doesn't pay attention: The first thing he mentioned to Maddon during his Trop visit Tuesday was his public affinity for the Arizona Cardinals. ... Evaluators in and outside the Rays organization say Davis is the best pitcher they have at any level. ... Baseball America's Jim Callis said he thinks the Rays will get top pick David Price signed before the Aug. 15 deadline.