A few items of note from Rays manager Joe Maddon's press conference this afternoon at Tropicana Field.
On the Rays' ALCS pitching rotation:
Maddon: [In order,] Shields, Kazmir, Garza, and Sonny [Sonnanstine] set up for the fourth game. Iím only saying [it] that way because there may be a situation where we want to use him earlier than that, we would not be opposed. If that were to happen maybe Shields would have to come back early. Theoretically perfect would be those four guys in a row. I just like it that way; itís no different than the first round in a sense. Shieldsy [Shields] in the first game because he normally gets a little deeper in the game, Kaz [Kazmir] in the second game if he runs into bit of a pitch-count problem you have the bullpen fresher. A day off and then of course the next two guys, and . . . we know about Garza, but Andy has done consistently well this last month or so I donít want to subtract Andy out of the mix either. You could talk about a three-man rotation, but we have really not set up guys on less than normal rest. We are not opposed to doing it if it needs to.
On settling on his final roster for the ALCS:
Maddon: We are going to have a meeting right now and we will get a little bit closer at that point. [We're still considering going with 11 pitchers.] I think the one thing you have to guard against in a seven [game series is ] whether you got one or even two games where you do have to utilize too much bullpen in a negative situation. You canít emphasize enough how it is just one game at a time here and you really have to try to win or lose and just move on to the next day. If you have to suck up a lot of guys, you donít want to utilize the meatier end of the bullpen. I think that is one area you have to be cognizant of protecting. [But] weíre still considering that right now.
On Carl Crawford being healthy and batting fifth in the order:
Maddon: Knowing that C.C. is well and he is able to go and everything is cool it does present a different thought . . . like it. Aki [Iwamura] and B.J. [Upton] have done a fine job [batting] one and two, so you are always trying to set up your No. 4 hitter because also Carlos [PeŮa] is a high on-base percentage guy all in front of Longo [Longoria]. I believe Carl is a very good RBI guy. [In an] RBI situation with two outs I like guys that donít hit fly balls. Fly balls with two outs are normally caught, groundballs and line drives, when you have a runner in scoring position with two outs the more often you can stay on the ground or on the line is a better or higher percentage chance of driving in that run, unless you can hit the ball over the wall. Nevertheless I still like that thought, so Carl coming up behind those guys, I kind of like it for those reasons and if doesnít work that way and he has to start the next inning then heís going to set up six and seven [hitters] which I like because Naviís [Navarro] done a nice job driving in runs, Carl can steal bases and he can get better pitches for the six-hole guy. I just like him in the middle of this whole thing right now, for me it tastes pretty good right now.
On what makes the Red Sox good in this situation:
Maddon: Experience, been there done that, they understand how this part of the year works. After that you look at their personnel, their starting pitching, I think, is very good and they match up well with us and we have to equally pitch with them in order to have a chance to stay these games. Offensively speaking, the thing that I donít think they are given enough credit for is that they are not just a bunch of bangers anymore. They play a pretty complete game, they have guys that you have to be concerned about running, they can hit-and-run now, they can hit for power now, I mean they are pretty balanced. I think we are very similar to them in a lot of respects now, where in the past one or two guys may run on occasion. They are more balanced so preparation for these guys entails a lot more thought than maybe it did a couple years ago, for me. You look at the season series what weíve done against them here what theyíve done to us up there I think it was a pretty matched up situation right now. They have the edge in regard to experience and having been there before.