tampabay.com

Amiable Floyd sets out to win

By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Published February 17, 2008


ST. PETERSBURG - Outfielder/DHCliff Floyd walked into the Rays clubhouse early Saturday - four days early - carrying his equipment in a black plastic garbage bag.

No entourage, no special handling, no bull: He's here to work, and to win.

"That's how I roll," he said.

There has been a lot of talk of the veteran presence Floyd, 35, will bring to the clubhouse, but he plans to do his part on the field, too. He signed (one year, with an option) primarily to be the left-handed DH but is open to playing rightfield a few times a week, which the Rays might need if Rocco Baldelli is limited, as expected.

"I would like to try to DH, but whatever role fits here," Floyd said. "I want to win."

Sidelined several times by foot and leg injuries the past few seasons, Floyd said he enters spring feeling good and with no restrictions for the first time since the early 2000s. In his past three full seasons, he hit 31 homers (2001), 28 (2002) and 34 (2005).

Floyd said he doesn't feel the need to do too much, that he's "not going to try to be Superman." Plus, noting All-Star LF Carl Crawford has the neighboring locker, he said, "We have Superman on the field."

Manager Joe Maddon will talk with Floyd in the coming days to determine how best to use him but liked his first impression of the 6-4, 230-pounder."I didn't know he was that big," Maddon said.

CATCHING ON: Maddon confirmed that Shawn Riggins is the top candidate for the backup catcher's job but had praise for 12-year veteran Mike Difelice, an original Ray.

"I can really understand why he's made such an impact on all the teams that he's played for," Maddon said. "Well-spoken, well-thought-out and he's got this professional sternness about him as a catcher that I really like."

MISCELLANY: Maddon termed closer Troy Percival's solid bullpen session a "nice encouraging sign." ... The Rays won't know more until Monday about the status of RHP Juan Salas, delayed by visa problems in the Dominican Republic. ... C Dioner Navarro, attending to his hospitalized mother in Venezuela, might arrive Monday. ... INF Ben Zobrist reported Saturday; 2B Akinori Iwamura is due in today. ... The team is seeking batboys 16 and older. Call (727) 825-3165 for information.