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Rays

Damon nears exclusive group

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 05:21 PM
ST. PETERSBURG -

When he broke into the big leagues 17 years ago, there were a lot of baseball people who thought Johnny Damon was nothing more than a singles hitter.

Since then, Damon has proved to be one of the game's most prolific extra-base hitters. And not just of his era, but of all-time.

With his next double, Damon will become the 11th player in history to have 500 doubles, 100 triples and 200 home runs among his more than 2,500 hits, and all of the previous 10 are in the Hall of Fame.

That has Damon thinking he can reach the Hall of Fame some day, but adding to that doubles total is what's occupying his mind most right now.

"That's one of the milestones I want to hit,'' he said of reaching the 500-doubles plateau. "But hopefully I can continue to run the way I do, and I don't know, I think 600 (doubles) is well within reach also.''

Wouldn't miss it for the world

Thanks to some rotation juggling by manager Joe Maddon, David Price will start today's final game of this three-game series against the Red Sox. And truth be known, Price wouldn't want it any other way.

"I want to play against these guys, that's for sure,'' Price said. "I don't want to come home and watch a three-game set against Boston or New York (or even) Toronto. This is what separates us in the standings.''

Maddon knows that, of course. That's why he juggled the rotation, ensuring the Rays would have James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson and Price on the mound against the Red Sox.

"Yeah, we set it up so that (barring anything unforeseen) David and Shields would pitch against these guys and the Yankees (just before the All-Star break),'' Maddon said. "There's no denying it.''

Party central

Maddon said he took no offense to OF Carl Crawford's claim that the atmosphere around the Red Sox clubhouse is very businesslike, while the atmosphere around the Rays clubhouse makes it feel like "party central.''

"I read that,'' Maddon said. "I'm impressed. That's really cool. It's the highest compliment (because) what I believe he means is that we have a good time here.

"And it is fun and games. You're supposed to have a good time. It's not a death-defying act. Just enjoy your time as a major-league player. I think that's what Carl meant and I took it as a compliment. It's good stuff.''

Didn't mean it

Rays 1B Casey Kotchman and Maddon were in agreement Wednesday that Red Sox 3B Kevin Youkilis meant no harm when he clipped Kotchman's left ankle as he crossed first base in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 4-0 Rays victory.

"I know he didn't mean to do it,'" said Kotchman, who was left with a small bruise on the outside of his ankle.

"I know Youkilis a little bit from the (2009) All-Star Game, and I don't want to believe he would ever do anything intentionally like that to hurt somebody," Maddon said.

Lightning strikes

Several members of the Lightning, including C Steven Stamkos, will take batting practice with the Rays before tonight's game. The group also will throw out the ceremonial first pitches of the game.

Rays OF Matt Joyce, an avid Lightning fan, said he would gladly offer up some hitting tips to the group. Joyce added that he hopes the Lightning one day can offer him a similar opportunity.

"I wouldn't mind going on the ice and shooting some pucks,'' he said. "I'll trade with them.''

Roy Cummings

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