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Many Rays players spent offseason shaping their mind

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Published:   |   Updated: March 3, 2014 at 06:03 AM

PORT CHARLOTTE — Inside his office at Charlotte Sports Park, Joe Maddon talked on a recent afternoon about Nelson DeMille while Matt Joyce was out by his locker sharing wisdom learned from Carol Dweck.

Evan Longoria arrived for spring training 10 days earlier talking about Simon Sinek and Sinek's book, “Leaders Eat Last,” the title of which has been turned into the Rays' slogan for 2014 — “Eat Last.”

DeMille, Dweck and Sinek are authors who penned books that have resonated in certain corners of the clubhouse.

The reading list for Rays Lit 101 includes tomes on psychology, motivation, social development and leadership as well as best-selling novels.

Joyce's attitude toward this season, one in which he will spend considerable time in a role he doesn't particularly enjoy — designated hitter — has been shaped by Dweck's “Mindset.”

“It's some good reading, and it's a learning process,” Joyce said. “Instead of being stagnant and playing some video games and being lazy, that's the time to invest in yourself.”

And if you can uncover some nuggets that you can apply to your game, even better.

Chris Archer enjoys talking about the books he's read, which includes Malcolm Gladwell's “David and Goliath,” and Bruce H. Lipton's “Honeymoon Effect.”

Archer said he applies what he reads to his personal and professional life. As a starting pitcher, he pitches every five days, which means a bad outing stays with him until he takes the mound again.

“Reading for me, I can find different ways to combat those negative feelings, negative emotions,” he said. “I'm seeing the silver lining in everything.”

In “Mindset,” recommended to Joyce by Toronto's Jose Bautista, Dweck discusses the difference between fixed and growth mindsets. Someone with a fixed mindset looks at success as something you either have or don't have, whereas people with a growth mindset feel they can enhance their chances of success.

“You're always out to learn,” Joyce said. “It's a process.”

Joyce said he would stress about a poor game. Reading Dweck has opened his mind to where he will exam what happened during an 0-for-4 night. Was he prepared? Yes. Did he have a good approach to each at-bat? Yes.

“For me that takes a lot of stress off my shoulders. Every at-bat against a lefty, instead of me thinking I have to get a hit, I'm going to look at it as an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to grow, a chance to get more experience,” Joyce said. “I think it's great. I love it.”

Maddon picked up one of his principles of coaching in 1987 while reading DeMille's “By the Rivers of Babylon.”

“The phrase that impressed me so much was, 'A civilization will survive if everyday people did everyday things every day.' I thought that's a baseball team. A baseball team will survive if baseball players did everyday things every day,” Maddon said.

Archer read “Leaders Eat Last.” This is his takeaway: “What it really means to have integrity, so you check yourself. You're like, is this one of my characteristics? And if not, it's an eye-opener and you change to make it that way.”

Sinek said he is thrilled the Rays have turned the title of his book into their goal for the season, which is to win the World Series, be the last team eating.

“Well, that's not really what it means,” Sinek said. “A good leader, if it is time to go home but others are struggling, he would help them out. If somebody is having a bad game, instead of keeping to yourself, you do what you can to help the guy. It's about operating selfless instead of selfish.”

That is also one of Maddon's principles — team over individual.

In that case, being a good leader means being a good teammate, and good teammates make for good teams.

“It's not about being a better player, it's about being a better team,” Sinik said. “What can I do for the other players? What can I do to make them better?”

In some cases, the answer are found in the pages of a book.

“It can help you improve, because more than anything it changes the way you think about things,” Joyce said. “You're not putting as much stress on yourself. You take it as opportunities to learn, and you're having more fun playing the game.”

 

rmooney@tampatrib.com

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Twitter: @RMooneyTBO

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