Joe Maddon isn't concerned about the details. • With his Rays opening a five-week exhibition season today, he has yet to put much time into sorting out how to set up his once-again renovated lineup and how to get the most out of the new guys, the healthy guys and the gonna-do-better guys. And he picks up a blank yellow legal pad off his desk for emphasis. • "I don't know," he said. "I swear to you, promise you, I have not one time done it on a piece of paper. Not once. I'm waiting to see it and try it and feel it and understand it better." • There are a few things he does know. Desmond Jennings will hit leadoff. Evan Longoria will be third or fourth. Ben Zobrist will slot in ahead of him, some combination of Luke Scott, Matt Joyce and James Loney behind with Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson potential wild cards. Also, that the bottom line will be better. After finishing 11th in the American League last season in runs (the 697 their fewest since the Devil Rays days) and despite losing three of the most productive players off that team in B.J. Upton, Jeff Keppinger and Carlos Peña, Maddon and the Rays are certain they have the components — more contact, fewer strikeouts, enough power and a credit for better health — to have a more productive offense. "I totally believe it's going to be capable of putting up kind of significantly more runs than we did last year," Maddon said. "It could be really good." The reasons for their optimism basically can be broken down into three categories.
Rays believe offense will improve
Tampa Bay Times | Feb 23