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Rays

Maddon favors realignment

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 05:43 PM
ST. PETERSBURG -

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon is not a fan of interleague play, but he is a big proponent of the idea of restructuring MLB into two 15-team leagues.

"Two 15-team leagues, with the top five making it (to the playoffs), that probably optimizes our chances (of making the playoffs), and I like whatever optimizes our chance of making the playoffs," Maddon said.

It was revealed recently that MLB is contemplating moving a team (possibly Houston) from the National League to the American League and creating two 15-team leagues in which the top five in each would make the postseason.

Maddon said he likes that idea as well as a return to a balanced schedule that eliminates interleague play so that each league can produce what he said would be a true league champion.

Stanton puts onbig pregame show

Marlins 21-year-old slugger Mike Stanton, all 6-foot-5, 248 pounds of him, put on a show during batting practice in a near-empty Trop, driving baseballs in a jaw-dropping fashion.

"You saw?" Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said with a smile. "We've been seeing that for a long time."

Stanton has 16 homers in 2011, after hitting 22 as a rookie last season. One of his Friday drives hit the base of the scoreboard in dead center field, which is about 70 feet off the ground. Conservative estimates put the drive between 480 and 500 feet.

"The wind was blowing out," Stanton said.

Rodriguez once coached Josh Hamilton in the Rays farm system shortly after he was selected first overall by Tampa Bay in 1999.

"Yeah, the same kind of power, I would say," Rodriguez said, comparing Hamilton and Stanton. "The thing about Josh Hamilton is when he signed in 1999, he was already very mature as a player. Michael Stanton is just starting to get the mechanics right, because he was more of a football player out of high school. He doesn't even have all the mechanics down. Sometimes, he's scary."

Tough homecoming

Former East Lake High standout Chris Coghlan had his homecoming celebration canceled by Rodriguez.

Coghlan, Florida's Opening Day center fielder and the 2009 rookie of the year, was sent down to Triple-A before Friday's game. He was switched to center field this season after never playing the position as a professional and hit .230 with five homers, 22 RBIs and seven steals (caught six times) in 65 games.

"I really believe, and we believe, that Chris Coghlan needs to work on his swing," Rodriguez said. "We all know he's a way better hitter than he's been showing. We really believe if he goes there and goes back to basics with a little less pressure, I think he will be fine. Whenever he is fine, he can come back here and help us."

Around the horn

Montgomery AA pitcher Matt Moore threw the first no-hitter in team history — and the first in the Southern League since 2008 — during an 8-0 victory against Mobile on Thursday. Moore struck out 11 and allowed two walks in nine innings. … Rays OF Matt Joyce, who went into Friday's game hitting .319 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs, is featured in the current edition of ESPN The Magazine, which calls him "the best surprise in baseball" this season. "I always thought I could be productive and help the team win and have some success in the big leagues, so it's nice to have people notice that you really can play here," Joyce said. … The Rays have signed Washington Shorewood High's Blake Snell, their seventh selection (52nd overall) in this month's draft. Snell was chosen in the supplemental round A.

Roy Cummings, Martin Fennelly, Anwar S. Richardson

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