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Rays develop optimism from what's gone right in losses

BALTIMORE -- Losing nine of their first 14 games has not been the way the Rays wanted to start the season. However, there is plenty of room to be optimistic based on why they have lost.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said his team had been playing hard, the defense had been great and the pitching was good. Which leaves the offense, the element of any team that most often comes and goes.

"You should be pretty good if your pitching's good and your defense is good; those are some things that don't drop off as much day to day," said Kelly Johnson, who homered in each of the first two games of the Baltimore series.

"Nothing new, just the game of baseball and how it goes," he added. "Hopefully the early-season stuff was just our time to kind of struggle. And I think it's going to make us better."

Despite the early losses, there are no signs of panic in the Rays clubhouse. Following Wednesday night's win, Shelley Duncan credited Maddon for keeping things loose. Johnson agreed with his teammate in regard to Maddon's even-keeled leadership.

"There's definitely managers who wear it a little more on their sleeves than others," Johnson said. "And you do feel that as a player, especially if you're the one who is kind of scuffling one way or the other in the game. Maybe he doesn't talk to you as much as he did. You make something out of nothing.

"But if you have a guy who seems like it's the same every day, the same open book every day, it's just a relief. It's like that all the way through, every coach, the front office. Every day it's the same no matter what, even if you're scuffling, doing well, it doesn't matter."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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