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Rays notes: Maddon staying positive through slump

Published:   |   Updated: April 15, 2013 at 09:22 AM
BOSTON -

Stay positive. That’s the familiar refrain from manager Joe Maddon to his offense after the Rays went down meekly in Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the Red Sox.

“Physiologically for the team itself, we got to hit the ball just to really pick everybody’s spirits up,” Maddon said. “When you’re not hitting the ball totally you get that bad vibe among the group. It’s really hard to keep them pushing and moving and motivated, but we’ll start hitting the ball. That’s the only thing right now, we’re not making hard contact.”

The Rays have gone six games and 58 innings since their last home run. They are on an 0-for-26 stretch with runners in scoring position. Their 33 runs scored this season are the lowest through 11 games in franchise history.

“I think all of us individually have things that we’re working on,” 2B Ben Zobrist said. “It’s really hard to find time in the cage before the game because everybody wants to get in there, so that’s a good sign. But at the same time you want everybody to be more comfortable then they are right now in the (batter’s) box. Hopefully that’ll happen soon.”

Maddon said part of the reason is the new players are still trying to get comfortable in the new lineup.

“Obviously we want it to be different and we’re confident that it is going to be different,” LF Kelly Johnson said. “Still it’s early, just one of those things you need something to spark it. We’re just going to have to find that spark somewhere, cause it is contagious. Both hitting and not hitting is contagious. It will be nice to get back to the plate relatively quickly compared to the way it’s going when you’ve got to wait a couple innings.”

Cobb rebounds Sloppy fielding in the third inning helped the Red Sox to a four-run outburst. RHP Alex Cobb dropped a comebacker with the bases loaded and could only get the out at the plate. SS Yunel Escobar was charged with a throwing error, which prevented the Rays from turning an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play.

That would have kept it a two-run game.

Still, Cobb settled down and pitched into the seventh inning.

Maddon said he thought he saw a more mature Cobb after the third inning. Cobb agreed.

“I think in years past I might have let things get a way a little bit, caved in under the pressure,” Cobb said. “This year I took the pressure head on, told myself not to let this happen, those games that happened in the past not to happen. It definitely made me angry. It made me more aggressive, and it probably helped a little bit.”

Rise and shine For the third time in four years the Rays will play the Red Sox on Patriots’ Day, which means the traditional and unusual 11:05 a.m. start time.

Pitching coach Jim Hickey joked Friday when he announced the changes to the rotation because of that night’s rainout that the only discussion would if RHP Jeremy Hellickson, this morning’s starter, would be awake by game time.

Hellickson said he wakes up at 11 a.m. on days when the Rays have off or are playing at night.

“Everyone says it looks like I’m sleeping out there anyway,” Hellickson said.

All kidding aside, Hellickson said he doesn’t think the late-morning start should be an issue.

“I think spring training and these last few day (games) probably helped a little bit,” he said. “Luckily I’m still kind of on the spring training schedule. But it’s going to be early.”

The team bus will leave for the stadium at 9 a.m. The Rays will not have batting practice.

“It’s pretty much a strap it on and play day, man,” Maddon said.

Noteworthy The Rays will wear No. 42 today and Tuesday night in Baltimore in honor of Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier on April 15, 1947 … David Price is the 11th reigning Cy Young Award winner to go winless in his first three starts … Evan Longoria has reached base in every game this season.

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