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Rays notes: Maddon plans another surprise

Published:   |   Updated: April 24, 2013 at 07:58 AM
ST. PETERSBURG -

The finale of this homestand promises to be one to remember, and it won’t have anything to do with tonight’s game between the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees.

All manager Joe Maddon would say about this afternoon’s pregame guest is that it will be another member of the animal kingdom.

Maddon, who brought in a DJ on Saturday and a magician Sunday, walked around the clubhouse Tuesday afternoon and conducted his pregame media session with Mindy, a 22-year-old Umbrella Cockatoo, perched on his arm and left shoulder.

“Just another little diversion,” Maddon said. “I’ve always loved birds. I’ve always wanted one of these.”

Mindy has been living in Sunken Gardens for the past five years. She has a life expectancy of 80 to 90 years, according to her owner, P.J. Murray of Tierra Verde.

The acts and animals are all part of Maddon’s way to take some of the pressure off as players tried to rebound from a 2-7 road trip.

“Let’s take the other road less traveled by which would be the one with birds in your clubhouse,” Maddon said.

Vice president of communications Rick Vaughn was charged with finding an animal for today; neither he nor Maddon would reveal the choice. Maddon said it won’t be ponies for pony rides or snakes.

“I will not be in the clubhouse with a snake,” Maddon said. “Regardless of what people say, I’m not on board with that.”

When asked if he could do something that would take his team by surprise, Maddon said, “Yeah, but I’m not going to mention it.”

Plans for Scott DH Luke Scott (strained right calf) began his minor-league rehab stint Tuesday with Class A Charlotte and went 1-for-4 with an RBI. Scott said he plans to join the Rays on the upcoming road trip.

Maddon said that’s possible even though the trip finishes with three games against the Rockies where the Rays won’t be able to use the DH.

Having Scott would seem like a waste of a roster spot unless he can prove during these games with the Stone Crabs that he can play first base and the outfield. Maddon said Scott’s ability to play the field is not an issue.

“He’s had some good success against Kansas City, too,” Maddon said. “You don’t want to walk away from that. If he can help you win a couple of games there, that would be a good thing. It’s really going to come down to how he feels in general. Yes, you’d like him to be able to play the field.

“If not, I don’t think that’s going to preclude him from coming and visiting us if, overall, everything is pretty good.”

More on Moore LHP Matt Moore, 23, is the first pitcher 23 or younger to begin the season 4-0 with an ERA lower than 1.10 since 20-year-old Fernando Valenzuela was 4-0 with a 0.25 ERA in 1981.

Moore is also the second pitcher since 1916 to have three starts of at least five innings with two hits or less within the team’s first 19 games of the season. The first to do it was Washington’s Gio Gonzalez in 2012.

No place like gnome The first 10,000 fans at tonight’s game will receive a Joe Maddon Gnome.

“You always aspire to become a bobblehead, but to become a gnome is even beyond expectations,” Maddon said. “That part is truly hard to wrap your mind around.”

Noteworthy RF Ben Zobrist became the team’s all-time leader in sacrifice flies on Tuesday night with 36 after his first-inning fly ball scored Desmond Jennings. Zobrist had been tied with Carl Crawford. … Tuesday’s lineup was picked by the members of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce. It was the third straight year the chamber picked out a lineup during its annual Rays luncheon. The Rays won the first two games. … Thursday’s game at Chicago will be the first this season broadcast on both 97.9 FM and 1250 AM because of a conflict with the Bucs. WDAE, 620 AM, will broadcast the NFL draft. … Moore and tonight’s starter, RHP Alex Cobb, who began the year as the fourth and fifth starters, are a combined 6-1 with a 1.71 ERA.

Roger Mooney

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