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Rays

Rays' postseason rotation depends on foe

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 08:04 PM
ST. PETERSBURG -

The Rays' roster and pitching rotation order for the ALDS will be tailored according to whether the opponent is the Rangers or Twins, Manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday.

The Rays will open the postseason against the Rangers at home if they're the AL East champions or on the road against the Twins if they're the wild-card team. They went 5-3 against Minnesota and 4-2 against Texas this season.

"We have a lot of options," Maddon said. "There are two different teams that are going to present different challenges to us. We've got to sit down and look at all our options versus Minnesota or Texas."

Although Maddon said he wasn't ready to name his Game 1 starter, LHP David Price is the obvious choice. Price (19-6, 2.73) has become the team's clear-cut ace, and since he won't make his final scheduled start Sunday at Kansas City, he'll be rested for the postseason.

There's still an outside chance the AL All-Star Game starter could get his 20th victory, because Maddon said he could make an appearance of some sort during the Kansas City series.

"He'll pitch again (before the playoffs)," Maddon said. "We just have to figure the right game, the right number of innings and that kind of thing."

Price said he'll find a way to stay sharp during what otherwise would be an eight-day layoff.

"I'll do some side work and stuff," he said. "If I don't get into a game, I'm sure I'll throw maybe a live BP or something."

Not knowing whether the AL East title will still be at stake Sunday, Maddon said the Rays haven't decided who will start the regular-season finale. Andy Sonnanstine and Jeremy Hellickson are available out of the bullpen.

Game stuff

Mustering only three hits, Tampa Bay was held to three hits or fewer for the 13th time this year, which is the most in the majors. ... B.J. Upton's diving catch in the seventh wasn't the Rays' only outstanding defensive play. C John Jaso left his feet to make a diving catch in foul territory on a bunt attempt by Cesar Izturis in the third. ... LHP Randy Choate made his AL-leading 83rd appearance of the season in the eighth and retired the only batter he faced. He became the first LHP in the AL since Kelly Wunsch in 2000 to have that many appearances. ... The Rays finished the home stand 3-3, taking two of three from Seattle and dropping two of three from Baltimore. ... The Rays finished 49-32 at home, their third most wins in a season at home (behind 57 in 2008 and 52 in 2009).

Crawford is team MVP

LF Carl Crawford was named the Rays' MVP by the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America after narrowly outpolling closer Rafael Soriano.

The All-Star starter entered Wednesday hitting a team-high .309 with 17 home runs, a career-high 88 RBIs, 46 stolen bases and a franchise-record 106 runs scored. He leads the majors in triples with 13 and is batting .364 with runners in scoring position, second in the AL.

And none of that speaks to the Gold Glove-caliber defense he has played.

Crawford received 44 points and six of 12 first-place votes. Soriano, who entered Wednesday with a franchise-record and AL-leading 44 saves, received 41 points.

RHP Wade Davis was named the team's Outstanding Rookie, ahead of C John Jaso and IF Reid Brignac, and Crawford was the recipient of the Paul C. Smith Champion Award presented to the player who best exemplifies professionalism on and off the field.

Paul C. Smith is a former Tampa Tribune executive sports editor and writer for MLB.com who died in 2005.

Fashion statement

The Rays wore their new "Brayser" caps in Wednesday's game. Wearing plaid is unusual, but it has been done before at the major-league level. The Baseball Hall of Fame, in its "Dressed to the Nines" exhibit, has documented purple plaid uniforms worn by the 1916 New York Giants. The Brooklyn Dodgers also wore a more sedate blue plaid design that year and won the National League pennant.

"All this stuff (being unique) has been done in different ways before," Maddon said, citing St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck pinch-hitting 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel in 1951 and Charlie O. Finley's colorful uniforms and white shoes with Oakland.

"It's just that when something new comes out, some people enjoy it, some frown upon it and some don't get it."

Odds and ends

3B Evan Longoria (strained left quad) missed a sixth consecutive game. He took early batting practice with hitting coach Derek Shelton but probably won't start tonight's series opener at Kansas City, Maddon said. ... In tonight's series opener at K.C., the Rays will try to stay unbeaten against 2009 Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke.

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