Maddon uses off-day to dole out extra rest
Bartlett, Upton sit vs. Mariners after long homestand
SEATTLE -- Joe Maddon took advantage of Monday's off-day to rest players in both Sunday's and Tuesday's ballgames.
Sean Rodriguez started in place of Carl Crawford in left field on Sunday while Tuesday night's lineup saw Reid Brignac at shortstop instead of Jason Bartlett and Ben Zobrist in center field instead of B.J. Upton.
Maddon has long believed that a player can achieve a more complete rest when it coincides with a team off-day to give the player consecutive days off his feet.
"He said he wants to get me two days," Bartlett said. "He likes that two-days thing. This is another way to do it, and I think it's a good way to get some guys in, too."
Crawford ended up playing in the ninth inning of Sunday's game after having the first eight innings off. On Tuesday, it was Upton's turn to serve a bench role as he pinch-ran in the top of the seventh inning and remained in the game as Tampa Bay's center fielder.
"It's always nice to get a day off; usually towards the end of those 10 days [during a homestand], you feel a little beat up," Crawford said. "Especially the way we play. We're always running real hard trying to steal bases. Stuff like that."
According to Crawford, two days off can rejuvenate his legs.
"You definitely can feel the difference," Crawford said. "After a full day off, you can feel the freshness in your legs. A lot of people may think it's early to get days off like that, but it definitely helps for the long term."
Upton said any day off is a good day.
"But Joe's always been a big believer that if he's going to give you one, he's going to give you two, right before or after an off-day," Upton said. "I'll definitely take this one. Get my legs back under me and get ready to ride it out."
Based on the long homestand on the artificial surface at Tropicana Field and Monday's travel to Seattle, Upton said the off-day came at the right time for him.
"The biggest thing is coming off the turf as long as we were home," Upton said. "Being able to get back on grass, I think [Maddon] knows I would have been fine today, but to give me two days off and be able to get out there on grass for the rest of the road trip is really big."
Upton laughed when asked if the next time he gets an off-day he would prefer not to play on the day when Zack Greinke faces the Rays. The Kansas City right-hander was tough during the Rays' 1-0 win over the Royals on Sunday, a game in which Upton played center field.
"Nah, it doesn't matter, I don't care who's out there," Upton said. "The biggest thing is just to have my legs under me. Not that they haven't been, but it was getting to the point that I think some of the at-bats kind of showed that the past couple of days."
Rays turning into good cold-weather team
SEATTLE -- Looks like the Rays are going to have to battle the weather again this week in Seattle -- just as they did on their first road trip of the season to Baltimore, Boston and Chicago.
Seattle's forecast calls for nighttime weather in the 40s for the Rays' entire stay.
"This has just been our plight the whole spring," said manager Joe Maddon. "Boston, one or two nights in Baltimore, Chicago was awful. So we've turned into a good cold-weather team."
The roof at Safeco Field remained closed for Tuesday night's opener against the Mariners, but Maddon noted it would have a small effect.
"Doesn't really matter, cold is cold," he said.
Rays hold well-attended voluntary workout
SEATTLE -- The Rays had a voluntary workout Tuesday afternoon that was well attended.
"We always get a large turnout," manager Joe Maddon said. "Our guys are really eager. They're excited. They're in front of the computer, checking things out, watching the opposition. They're looking at the sheets, the written information. It's been fabulous. Our work ethic is getting better and we're utilizing all the different items and technologies that are available to us. And I like that. I think it's great."
Maddon recalls chats with Harwell
SEATTLE -- Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell died Tuesday. Rays manager Joe Maddon smiled when recalling his relationship with the Hall of Famer.
"The thing about him that stands out to me is that he treated me like I was a big league manager when I was the bench coach for the Anaheim Angels," Maddon said. "He knew you by your first name, wanted to sit down and talk to you; he was very engaging, very bright -- a wonderful man. And, again, that's my takeaway from Mr. Harwell, he treated me really well, as he did with everybody else."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.