CHICAGO — Manager Joe Maddon, never a lover of interleague play, is actually excited about this weekend’s series against the Cubs because it will be the first time he will be inside historic Wrigley Field.
Maddon said he once rode his bicycle around the 100-year-old ballpark when he was a bench coach with the Angels
“I like history,” Maddon said. “I live in a house that was built in 1917. Got a home in Hazleton (Pennsylvania) that was built in 1889. I’m looking forward to going.”
This will be the third interleague series between the two clubs and the Rays’ first trip to Wrigley since 2003, when they lost two of three.
Former Cubs RF Sammy Sosa was ejected during the first inning of the Devil Rays’ 3-2 loss on June 3, 2003, when it was learned he was using a corked bat after the bat shattered. The Devil Rays lost that game when Al Levine uncorked a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Only four players on the roster — C Jose Molina, 1B James Loney, SS Yunel Escobar and LHP Jeff Beliveau — have played at Wrigley Field. Molina and Beliveau did it as members of the Cubs. Also, bench coach Dave Martinez began his career with the Cubs.
The Rays did not hit a home run during that three-game series in 2003. Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium remain the only ballparks in which the Rays have yet to homer.
RHP Chris Archer, tonight’s starter, and OF Brandon Guyer received minor-league awards during the end of the 2010 season at Wrigley while prospects in the Cubs organization.
Archer was the Cubs’ minor-league pitcher of the year that summer, and Guyer was the minor-league player of the year. Both were part of the package the Cubs sent to the Rays the following January for RHP Matt Garza.
“It’s funny. The last time both of us were there was to get the awards and we weren’t in the organization the next year,” Archer said.
The New York Times reported that Rays owner Stuart Sternberg was considered a candidate to replace outgoing commissioner Bud Selig and interviewed by the search committee.
Sternberg, who serves on several committees in Major League Baseball, is not a finalist.
The three finalists are Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, MLB COO Rob Manfred and MLB official Tim Brosnan. The owners are expected to vote on Selig’s replacement next week.
Sac bunts rule
As impressive as RHP Alex Cobb’s RBI double against the Cardinals was, Archer said he would be thrilled to duplicate what RHP Jake Odorizzi did against the Cardinals when Archer takes his turn today in the batter’s box.
Odorizzi drove in a run with a sacrifice bunt July 22 during his first plate appearances against the Cardinals.
“That’s more along the lines of doing your job,” Archer said.
What made it more impressive to Archer was that Odorizzi was not bunting against 55-mph batting-practice pitches from pitching coach Jim Hickey. He did it against NL All-Star game starter Adam Wainwright.
“Being able to get that bunt down and score that run is huge,” Archer said, “so if I can have an impact like that, it’s awesome.”
UTL Ben Zobrist has five of the Rays’ 11 interleague home runs this season. ... Rays pitchers have a major league-low .219 opponents batting average in interleague play. ... SS Yunel Escobar is batting .315 in his 20 games since coming off the DL. ... 3B Evan Longoria has a seven-game hitting streak.