Maddon wants 'good energy' in early spring games
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- It's a long camp and a long exhibition schedule. But heading into the Grapefruit League games, Rays manager Joe Maddon hopes to see a consistent energy level from his club, even with so many players due to depart for the World Baseball Classic.
"My concern is not to win [exhibition games] but to create good energy," Maddon said Friday. "I think if we do that, we will win. Getting the program out this first week or 10 days, I think we've done a good job of that."
Maddon unveiled his lineups for Saturday's exhibition openers. It will be a double-dose Saturday, with half the club traveling to Fort Myers to face the Red Sox at 1:35 p.m. ET and the other half staying home to take on the Pirates at 1:05 p.m.
For the home game, the lineup will look like this: CF Sam Fuld, SS Yunel Escobar, 2B Kelly Johnson, C Jose Molina, DH Luke Scott, 1B James Loney, RF Wil Myers, 3B Chris Gimenez, LF Rich Thompson. Right-hander Roberto Hernandez will get the start.
For the away game, the lineup is: RF Ben Zobrist, CF Desmond Jennings, LF Matt Joyce, DH Jack Cust, 2B Ryan Roberts, 3B Sean Rodriguez, 1B Shelley Duncan, C Jose Lobaton and SS Hak-Ju Lee, with right-hander Alex Colome starting.
Maddon has been especially impressed this spring with the ways the Rays' veterans have gone out of their way to help imports like Loney, Myers and Johnson get acclimated to the club's sometimes unique way of going about its business.
"The primary thing I always want to accomplish right now is to get the message out there that everybody understands what we do and how we do things," Maddon said. "We really rely on the guys who have been here to carry the message, which they've done a tremendous job of. I've been so pleased."
Maddon won't be doing much evaluating in these initial Grapefruit League games.
"First time through, let them play," he said. "Let's just go out and not get hurt and get your feet underneath you. I am so not into making any kind of evaluations right now. Even for me, just getting the rhythm of my signs and seeing the speed of the game again, selfishly I want to see that for myself. So it's really not evaluation time."