Joe Maddon seeks inspiration before facing Yankees
NEW YORK (AP) -- Joe Maddon sought some assistance in devising his lineup for Wednesday night's game against the New York Yankees, so the Tampa Bay Rays manager walked from his team's hotel in Times Square to St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Maddon said he sat in the back for his late-morning visit.
"I was looking for inspiration," he said. "I saw St. Jude -- don't know how good he is with the hit and run. Was a pretty good defender."
St. Jude is considered the patron saint of hopeless cases.
Maddon lit a candle, but not specifically for the Rays.
"For general purposes," he said.
Maddon didn't start outfielder Desmond Jennings (tight left hamstring) and shortstop Yunel Escobar (sore left ankle), and he had Delmon Young at designated hitter instead of Luke Scott.
Maddon said he was concerned the Yankees would take out starter Phil Hughes early and bring in a left-hander.
Closing in on its fourth postseason berth in six years, Tampa Bay began the day with a one-game lead over Cleveland in the AL wild-card race, with Texas another game back.
Tampa Bay has an 88-69 record despite a $59 million opening-day payroll, 28th among the 30 major league teams and ahead of only Miami and Houston.
Maddon says tougher testing for performance-enhancing drugs has helped the Rays, who during the Steroids Era could not afford players with inflated statistics that led to higher salaries.
"With a better drug-testing policy in place, I think the playing field has been leveled, not somewhat but a lot," he said, "and because of that we are back to pretty much real baseball again, getting pretty close to it, where average human beings get tired this time of the year, we've got to rest people."
Payroll isn't likely to increase by much if at all. The Rays drew just 1.51 million fans to Tropicana Field, which will be the fewest in the major leagues this season and would be the lowest total for a playoff team since the 2003 Florida Marlins drew 1.3 million, according to STATS.