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Rays' Maddon eyes All-Star roster duty

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2013 at 12:53 AM
TORONTO -

As the questions have grown more frequent the past few weeks, Joe Maddon has given the same basic answer: No, he hasn't spent a whole lot of time thinking about filling out the American League roster for the All-Star Game.

Maddon won't be able to keep those duties at the back of his mind for much longer, though. He plans to spend a good chunk of the Rays' day off Thursday studying up on the players and possibilities.

"I'm going to hunker down," Maddon said, with at least a touch of sarcasm. "I'm really looking forward to it."

It is in many respects a thankless job. By the time Maddon makes his selections on the heels of voting by the fans and players, there's a good chance he'll be hemmed in by the various roster requirements in place, such as ensuring every team is represented and the squad features the requisite number of pitchers.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who has skippered the AL team twice, told reporters Tuesday that he got to pick one player of his own volition in one of his years as manager and none the other year.

Nonetheless, there is homework to be done, and Maddon said he isn't sure exactly what his Thursday cram session will entail.

"I don't know if it's going to be a number-fest, I don't know if it's going to be a phone call-fest - I'm really not sure," Maddon said. "But I need some more information. I'm not going to sit here and tell you I'm going to pick the All-Star team Thursday. I need more information, I need all the voting to come in, and then I need more help from managers and other people, because we haven't even seen some teams yet."

By the weekend, Maddon figures to be much more informed about the various candidacies around the league than he is at the moment, even if he doesn't get a chance to apply much of his knowledge.

Day of rest

Evan Longoria isn't fully recovered from the left hamstring troubles that have sidelined him twice in recent weeks, and the Rays are prepared to ease off on his playing time a bit in an effort to keep him from pushing too hard.

Longoria didn't start Tuesday, with Maddon citing Toronto starter Scott Richmond's outstanding splits against right-handed hitters as a primary reason. But the manager acknowledged the likely All-Star Game starter - he maintained a wide lead at third base in the latest vote totals released Tuesday - isn't his usual self.

"We're just trying to nurse it through and get it to the point - it's not going to be 100 percent until he really gets some legitimate rest on it, but until then just try to do the best we can to minimize the impact of it," Maddon said.

That included the way Longoria was handled Tuesday, coming on to pinch-hit in the eighth but not heading out to play the field.

Odds and ends

Longoria still trails Derek Jeter for the overall AL lead in All-Star votes, 3,046,813 to 2,988,363. Jason Bartlett is second to Jeter at SS, Carl Crawford is fifth in the OF and Carlos Pena is fifth among 1B. ... RHP Andy Sonnanstine is scheduled to start for Durham tonight, his first appearance for the Bulls since being sent down last Friday. ... Four Montgomery players were selected for the Southern League All-Star Game: RHPs Jeremy Hellickson and Eddie Morlan, OF Desmond Jennings and 1B Rhyne Hughes. Jennings will not participate in the July 13 game because he will be playing in the All-Star Futures Game, and Hughes will not because he was promoted to Durham.

Marc Lancaster

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