ST. PETERSBURG — Is it time for penguins? Card tricks? A mariachi band?
Rays manager Joe Maddon used those and more last year to bring his team out of a funk. How about it now?
“I’m not opposed,” Maddon said before Friday’s game with the Yankees. “I don’t have anything right now. Nothing’s popped. I have to wait for something to pop. Again, I don’t want to try and sit here and think about something, force myself to think about it. It’s going to happen. When it happens, it will just show up.”
One reason Maddon isn’t drumming up a little pregame entertainment is because he doesn’t believe that’s what his team needs. What the Rays could use is a few line drives finding holes and a few breaks to go their way.
“We got to just keep swinging away, and when we find a hole here and there we’ll be fine,” Maddon said.
RHP Chris Archer, who faces the Yankees tonight, was asked if he noticed any changes among his teammates during this early season slide.
“It’s so early. Nobody’s really down. We understand that there is 90 percent of the season left,” Archer said. “It’s cool to come in and see Joe be the same, see (LHP David Price) be the same, see (pitching coach Jim Hickey) be the same. Everybody from top to bottom is the same as they were in spring training. There’s no sense from my perspective of panic, because we’ve only played 10 percent of the season. It’s nice. It shows what type of character we have.”
Maddon said he hasn’t noticed any frustration among the team and that a consistent message from he and his staff is vital during this stretch.
“They’ll come up by me before their at-bat, maybe one or two may have been a little frustrated. But for the most part they’re really upbeat about the moment,” he said. “I really like that. I think if they keep hearing a consistent message from me they’ll be able to handle it well. It’s all about the message and how you carry it out during the day.”
In a nod to 2013 being the Year of the Snake in the Chinese calendar, Maddon brought a 20-foot snake into the clubhouse last season after an 0-5 West Cost road trip. It was mentioned Friday that this is the Year of the Horse.
“You never know, little pony ride,” Maddon said. “Who knows?”
Maddon gave CF Desmond Jennings the night off Friday so Jennings could rest his legs.
Maddon said Jennings served as the designated hitter Thursday for the same reason. “I don’t want it to become a chronic problem, so I chose to do this,” Maddon said.
Maddon said RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo should come off the disabled list next week. Oviedo is pitching at Triple-A Durham, using it as his spring training since he missed most of it because of visa issues.
“He’s throwing the ball well,” Maddon said. “His velocity is up. Things are moving pretty good. He’s going to be interesting to get back.”
Jerry, Jerry, Jerry
Jerry Springer, host of dysfunctional daytime television, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He grew up in New York during the 1940s and 1950s and “was a big Joe DiMaggio fan,’’ but “I do like the Rays and admire what they’ve done.’’ Springer, who lives in Sarasota, said he attends about 10 Rays games each season, mostly on the weekend, because his show tapes in Stamford, Conn.
Springer met with Maddon before the game and said he plans to help Maddon with his annual Thanksmas project that feeds the needy.
Ben and Juliana Zobrist will sign copies of their book, “Double Play,” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at the Tropicana Field team store. The book is available for $24.99. ... On Thursday, INF/OF Sean Rodriguez became the first player to hit into a triple play and homer in the same game since Yankee Russell Martin did it Sept. 27, 2011 at Tropicana Field. ... According to Mark Simon of ESPN, the Rays entered Friday’s game batting a major league-low .589 on hard-hit balls. The major league average is .699.