A Tampa Bay Rays homestand that has included the offbeat and different, from a DJ to a magician to a cockatoo, had a visit from two penguins Wednesday. Before the Rays played the New York Yankees, which closed a six-game stop at home, two penguins from The Florida Aquarium in Tampa appeared in the home clubhouse. The animals, named “Cliff” and “Shelly,” wandered in the space with surprising speed, even making a few “messes” along the way. (Use your imagination.)
Among memorable things overheard on another day when Tropicana Field went to the birds …
From Rays manager Joe Maddon: “The difference between winning and losing is right here, baby.”
From Rays catcher Jose Molina, to one of the penguins: “Oh, don’t sneak in there!”
From Rays infielder/outfielder Kelly Johnson: “I just came from the batting cage, and whatever I was thinking about when I left, I sure forgot when I walked through the door.”
Maddon said he welcomed the penguins, like previous guests, to help his guys chill. (Pun intended.) To recap: Last Saturday, a DJ spun tunes; on Sunday, a magician got tricky; on Tuesday, a white-feathered cockatoo, a type of parrot, was paraded around players’ lockers.
Something worked. The campaign started after a rough 2-7 road-trip following visits to Texas, Boston and Baltimore that dropped the Rays to 5-10. Prior to Wednesday’s result, Tampa Bay was 4-1 in the homestand after facing the Oakland Athletics and Yankees.
“A lot of the things you do as a manager … feel is also part of it,” Maddon said. “Sometimes, guys just feel one way or feel another way. It’s absolutely something that you can feel within the dugout, and you know when the guys are feeling good about themselves and when they’re not. Once we got home and got that win against Oakland, all of the sudden the feeling started to come back to us.”