D-Rays manager gets his first taste

Published: Wednesday, March 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
ST. PETERSBURG - Joe Maddon finally got to do some in-game management Tuesday when the Tampa Bay Devil Rays had their first intrasquad game of the spring.
Maddon, 51, who had spent his entire professional baseball career with the Los Angeles Angels, was recently hired by the Devil Rays to replace Lou Piniella.
Maddon paced around both benches shouting encouragement, and cracking one-liners to the players and fans during the three-hour exhibition.
Maddon had already made an immediate impression on the first day of full-squad workouts when he told his players that he wouldn't be happy with anything but a playoff spot.
In Vero Beach, Jeff Kent underwent surgery on his right wrist Jan. 10 to remove scar tissue and repair a ligament. Before Tuesday, he had been hitting off a tee or with the ball being tossed from a short distance. This time, he hit from a batting cage, swinging easily and hitting line drives consistently with a coach doing the pitching.
In Port St. Lucie, after throwing 34 pitches to catcher Bobby Estallella at Mets camp, Pedro Martinez acknowledged he still has a lot of work to do before opening day.
"I'm out of shape," Martinez told a group of reporters before walking off the field. "I'm just trying to get back to the mound, see how my toe is. My arm is not full-strength."
None of his pitches appeared full-speed, and Martinez said he has to concentrate on getting his foot healthy before he can strengthen his arm.
Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield were held out of the New York Yankees' intrasquad game in Tampa, for precautionary reasons. Matsui has a sore left knee, while Sheffield has been slowed by back spasms. Both took batting practice and participated in fielding drills.
At Bradenton, shortstop Jack Wilson agreed to terms of a three-year, $20 million contract extension with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The 27-year-old Wilson was heading into the last year of a two-year, $8 million contract. He had one more year of arbitration eligibility and could have become a free agent after the 2007 season.
"Because I want to have my arm in good shape, I need to have my legs in good shape," he said. "Without a leg, there is no arm."
Martinez threw from the slope of the mound for the first time in camp last week after a sore right toe kept him in the clubhouse for the opening weeks of spring training.
In Scottsdale, Ariz., Barry Bonds entertained and delighted a small gathering of fans and San Francisco teammates by dressing up as Paula Abdul to judge a spin-off of the hit television show "American Idol," called Giants Idol.
Bonds, who wore a strapless dress and a blonde wig, surprised everyone watching the mock contest, where young players had to sing in front of the judges.
"I'll never tell my wife to hurry up any more," Bonds said. "Because it took me forever to get ready. I'll never do that again. I couldn't get my hair right. There were a lot things I went through during the 30 minutes I was getting ready."
The event raised $337 from fans that will be matched by the Giants organization and donated to the Giants Community Fund. Giants Idol was the brainchild of Mark Sweeney, who decided to bring a little levity to the clubhouse.
Also, the Giants and outfielder Randy Winn agreed to a $23.25 million, three-year contract extension.
Winn, acquired before last season's trading deadline from Seattle, batted .359 with 14 home runs after joining the Giants last season. The 31-year-old is on the U.S. roster for the World Baseball Classic.
At Dunedin, Fla., Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells played in the Blue Jays' intrasquad game, and appeared ready for the World Baseball Classic.
Wells, who won his second straight Gold Glove last season, is among 30 players on the U.S. roster for the tournament, scheduled for March 3-20. He strained his left quad lifting weights eight days ago, and it was believed he might miss the first round.
However, he played three innings in center field and popped out and grounded out in his two at-bats.
"It was very good," Wells said. "I was able to do everything 100 percent. I'm ready to go."
As for playing in the WBC, Wells said, "I think so. I've got to talk to my chiefs, Gibby (manager John Gibbons) and J.P. (general manager J.P. Ricciardi), I think it will be the consciences hopefully."
At Viera, Fla., Washington manager Frank Robinson said veteran infielder Damian Jackson - not Jose Vidro or Alfonso Soriano - will start at second base in the team's first spring game Wednesday against the Kia Tigers from South Korea.
Robinson's lineup will be a mixture of backups, prospects and regulars. He said Vidro is likely to start when the Nationals host the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, the same day Soriano leaves to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. When Soriano returns from the tournament, Washington hopes he will be amenable to a switch to the outfield.
At Jupiter, Fla., former pitcher Rick Ankiel, trying to make the St. Louis Cardinals as an outfielder, will miss 10 to 14 days of spring training after injuring his left knee.
Ankiel suffered the injury during an intrasquad game Monday. He had been scheduled to start in center field against Florida Atlantic University on Tuesday. An MRI on Tuesday revealed a strained patella tendon.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top