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Joe Maddon's hat, and what else the rain means for the Rays

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  April 6, 2009 01:35 PM

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There is one good piece of news regarding the weather: The cold and rain gave Rays manager Joe Maddon a chance to show off his awesome hat, which is a standard Rays baseball cap with hunting-style ear flaps.

ďItís very conducive to staying warm,Ē Maddon said. ďI donít think every major league manager is potentially going to wear this yet.Ē

One reporter suggested the hat ďkind of an Elmer Fudd factor to it.Ē

ďYou know what, that doesnít bother me at all,Ē Maddon said. ďIím flattered to be compared to Elmer Fudd. Heís an iconic figure.Ē

Maddon could afford to joke, because from his view, the rain delay won't affect the Rays. Starting pitcher James Shields will start tomorrow instead, and both Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey were confident in Shields's ability to ramp down today and gear up again tomorrow.

Maddon's plan for today was to "shut it down" as soon as he left the park -- read World Without End, Ken Follett's sequel to Pillars of the Earth; workout; eat a nice dinner out; and root for North Carolina, which he picked, in the NCAA title game. He figured this would come, anyway.

"You look at the weather maps, you donít have to be a weather genius to understand it was going to be bad," Maddon said. "So itís all good."

Maddon, standing in the visitor's dugout, paused for a moment, watching the rain pound the tarp covering the infield, and raised a valid point.

"Itís unfortunate to know that the weather is going to be really good at Tropicana Field today," he said.

Maddon was asked if he felt the defending American League champs should start at home.

"None of that stuff bothers me," Maddon said. "Itís kind of difficult to understand. Whereas we have a building with a roof on it, and we were a couple hours from where we just concluded spring training and so were they, that we would have to come up here to do this.

"I have no idea [why the game scheduled at Fenway]. I mean, I really donít spend a whole lot of time thinking about it. Itís just that itís kind of strange. Thatís all."

But anyway, we'll have baseball at Fenway tomorrow, and Shields will pitch. The Red Sox last saw him last season in Game 6 of the ALCS, when they belted nine hits and scored four runs off of him in 5 2/3 innings at Tropicana Field. Shields also started last Opening Day last season -- he beat the Baltimore Orioles -- but nothing could really prepare him for this.

"You look forward to it for so long," Hickey said. "I think the hardest thing is just trying to get rid of all of it and then gearing back up again the next day.

ďHe probably is one of the guys that is best-suited for this. Heís got the same emotions as anybody else, good, bad, or otherwise. But he does a real good job of just taking the energy and making a positive type of thing versus a destructive type of distraction."

Shields doesn't thinkt the 26-hour delay will be a factor.

"Not really, no," Shields said. "I had a good sleep last night, a good dinner last night. I'll have another good dinner tonight."

Last night, Shields at Kobe steak at Grill 23 with his wife and teammate J.P. Howell. And tonight?

"The same dinner? No, probably not," Shields said. "You can't have steak the same night in a row. I'm not really an I-gotta-eat-the-certain-food guy, you know?"

While he says the delay won't hinder his preparation, Shields did find the whole thing odd.

"It's very weird," Shields said. "Very weird. I think we definitely wouldn't mind being at the Trop right now. Because we wouldn't have this problem."

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