Floyd feeling fine in twilight of career
Rejuvenated outfielder looking forward to making impact
ST. PETERSBURG -- Cliff Floyd is in the late innings of a 15-year Major League career and understands his limitations.
"Well, I think the important thing is when I do get out on the field, play well," said Floyd, 35, who arrived at camp on Saturday. "I mean, not try to be Superman, because that's going into the danger zone, because we have guys who are Superman."
Floyd quickly revealed Superman's identity before any of the reporters around him could ask the natural follow-up question.
"Next to me right here," said Floyd, pointing to Carl Crawford's locker next to his inside the Raymond A. Naimoli Complex.
Since Crawford wears the superhero's cape for the Rays, the team doesn't need Floyd to be Superman. Manager Joe Maddon has said he wants Floyd to be a part of his "right-field triangle," a three-way rotation for the right field and DH positions between Floyd, Rocco Baldelli and Jonny Gomes.
"Whatever role I'm put into, I'm sure I can adapt to it, whether it's going into the outfield and playing two, three days a week and DHing two," Floyd said. "I know everybody has to play, and to me, getting everybody involved keeps everyone fresh. Now, however he plays it out, I'm willing to follow that lead. Because that's what's important, you have to know who's in charge."
In December, the Rays signed the veteran slugger to a one-year Major League contract with a club option for 2009. Floyd will make $2.75 million in 2008, with a chance to make up to $2 million in bonuses based on plate appearances. The deal includes a team option for the 2009 season at the base compensation he establishes in '08 (which ranges from $2.75 million to $4.75 million depending on where he falls in regard to his bonus), with the chance to earn an additional $2 million and a $250,000 buyout.
Floyd hit .284 with nine home runs and 45 RBIs for the Cubs in 2007, including a .373 on-base percentage in 108 games. But he has struggled with injuries throughout his career and had just 282 at-bats with the Cubs in 2007, which turned out to be a blessing. He believes his limited playing time last season afforded him an opportunity to heal. And heading into the start of Spring Training, he feels better than he has in a long time at this juncture of the season.
"I think for years, when I had the Achilles [injury], it would lead to other areas -- the hip, knees, everything else. I took a step back and talked to some people who really helped me and I feel pretty good. I'm not worried about anything coming into camp. Last year I didn't play a game until three weeks into camp. I don't know if that hurt me or what."
Floyd offered a chuckle.
"But I'll tell you what, when you miss three weeks of Spring Training ... it's not that easy to just jump in, particularly when you're not a spring chicken any more," Floyd said. "It's tough. I had to battle."
Floyd is familiar with the Rays' roster -- much of which can be attributed to his being able to watch night games since the Cubs play many of their games during the day.
"I just want to see these guys play as well as I've seen them play on TV and in person," Floyd said. "I want to be able to help. I want to be able to contribute, And make sure at the end of the day we all feel good about going home.
"I've seen these guys play against the Yankees and the talent's here. It's about going out there and believing a little more, believing that your team is getting better for the next year. Nobody here cares about the old Rays. And I don't know anything about the old Rays. All I know is they didn't make the playoffs. ... This is a new start to a new season and I think everybody in here is looking forward to having a good summer. We'll see how long it takes to be great, but we're looking forward to a good summer."
As for Superman, uh, Crawford...
"I'm looking forward to seeing him for 162 games, seeing what he can do," Floyd said. "See if he can do better, because he's already great in my eyes."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.