Joe Maddon walked into his first practice of spring training looking like a manager without a worry in the world. Why would he? Maddon has David Price following close behind him.
For Maddon, there are certainly no concerns about a Cy Young Award changing his Cy Young winner.
"Even though he has Cy is his bedroom now, I don't want him to change anything. I just want him to be himself. He'll continue to grow. That's the thing about growth. You can't force it. You can't force leadership. Leadership is kind of taken."
Before handing over control of the clubhouse to Price, Maddon had shortened message to his pitcher and catchers, mainly to the incoming class.
"A bit of the overarching philosophy regarding how we do things here," said Maddon. "We give the guys a lot of latitude and we expect a lot of discipline in return for latitude."
Chris Archer comes to spring training with a shot a grabbing the fifth spot in the starting rotation. The part of the message he liked from his skipper was about finishing.
"He wants to work smarter and win the last game of the year," said Archer. "I think that sums it up. Win the last game of the year. Take care of what you have to do to win the last game of the year."
Just a year ago, James Shields came to spring training boasting about the Rays having eight legitimate starting pitchers. Now a year later, with Shields and Wade Davis gone, the Rays come to camp still with eight legitimate arms that have the talent to make their starting five-man rotation.
"That's a very good point," said Matt Moore. "You look at subtractions with our team, with Wade and Shields leaving, and the additions with Jake (Odorizzi) and Roberto (Hernandez)and those guys. It's a good feel. First week of pitchers and catchers getting here, you could ask for anything better."
Jeff Niemann is one of four pitchers that's competing for the only spot in the Rays starting rotation -- one more reason why Joe Maddon is a manager with no worries on this opening day of spring training.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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