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No quit in Maddon

Wed., June 18, 2014

Optimistic Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon still thinks the last-place Rays can make a playoff run. (Associated Press)
Optimistic Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon still thinks the last-place Rays can make a playoff run. (Associated Press)

It will take a historical turnaround, but Joe Maddon believes the last-place Tampa Bay Rays can still make the playoffs.

No major league team has fallen as far as 18 games under .500 and rebounded to earn a postseason berth in the same year. The ever-optimistic manager of the team with baseball’s worst record insists the underachieving Rays are capable.

After Tuesday’s 7-5 loss to A.L. East rival Baltimore, the Rays are 16 games under .500 – 13 games behind first-place Toronto.

“I look at this as an opportunity to do something unique,” Maddon said, adding that getting back into the race likely will require the Rays at least get back to the break even mark of 50-50 after 100 games.

That means a club that’s yet to have a winning streak of more than four games would have to play at a .759 clip over the next month to achieve that goal.

Injuries that have forced three members out of one of the top rotations in the majors have contributed to the team’s woes, but so have an anemic offense and the struggles of offseason acquisition Grant Balfour, who lost the closer’s role earlier this month.

Maddon, who’s in his ninth season, has drawn some criticism from fans for not being more critical of the team’s performance.

While conceding the Rays – at least for the moment – have earned the tag of “worst team in baseball,” Madden is adamant it’s a label they won’t carry much longer.

“I’m really very optimistic, primarily because we have not even come close to playing our best game,” the manager said.

Clearing the bases

Athletics left-hander Drew Pomeranz has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a broken right hand. … Rockies pitcher Nick Masset has been suspended three games and fined for throwing a pitch at Braves catcher Evan Gattis. Braves reliever David Carpenter was also fined for throwing at Rockies outfielder Corey Dickerson in the same game. … The Yankees have shuffled their catchers, activating Francisco Cervelli from the disabled list and sending John Ryan Murphy to the minors. … The Red Sox have designated outfielder Grady Sizemore for assignment. He’s hitting .216. … The Jays have sent struggling reliever Steve Delabar to the minors and promoted infielder Munenori Kawasaki. … The Rangers have signed Carlos Pena to a minor league contract. … The Braves have placed reliever David Carpenter on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right biceps.


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