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Rays hold players-only meeting, preach patience

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays held a players-only meeting in the clubhouse Friday evening to discuss their sluggish start to the season, but there was no panic in the room regarding their 5-10 record.

Infielder Sean Rodriguez voiced a few common sentiments among Rays players: that their problems now are more mental than mechanical or physical, and that they need to keep the same mindset and attitude that's allowed them to be so successful over the past few years. That includes making sure the struggling hitters stay patient rather than attempting to swing their way out of slumps.

Rays manager Joe Maddon agreed that now is not the time to make any dramatic changes, adding that he's not concerned about their record, because they've yet to play up to their ability. They've also seen far too many games where only one aspect of their team clicks.

"We just haven't put our whole game together," Maddon said. "We're definitely better than that."

As usual, Maddon praised his club's effort and attitude amid this rough skid in which they've lost eight of their last 10. Maddon has never been one to call meetings with players, but he liked the idea that they were getting together "to try to build one another up a little bit."

"It's just a bad couple games. We kind of just put it behind us," said Jeremy Hellickson, who will start Saturday against the A's. "We had a rough one [Thursday] night, but we've just got to forget about it and move on."

Their schedule won't get any easier from here, however, as they're about to play three games against the A's, who own the American League's best record going into Friday's game, and three more against the Yankees, who are 8-6 going into Friday despite all their injured stars.

"Of course I'd like to have a better record, absolutely. But I'm not really concerned yet. It's too early to be concerned," Maddon said. "If we had been playing as well as we possibly could have played and had this record, I'd be more concerned. We have not even scratched the surface of how well we're capable of playing."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.
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