ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays welcomed a special guest into their clubhouse before taking on the White Sox on Friday night.
Most of them did, at least.
University of Florida football coach Urban Meyer attended the game with his son, Nathan, and visited Tampa Bay players and coaches in the clubhouse prior to the game. Several members of the team, including pitcher Wade Davis and clubhouse manager Chris Westmoreland, were happy to see the two-time national champion.
"It's good to have probably the best coach ever in college history in the clubhouse," said Davis, a Gators fan. "I haven't met him yet, but that's pretty cool. I know Westy's probably having a good time."
Lance Cormier and B.J. Upton, on the other hand, took a few lighthearted jabs at Meyer.
Cormier, who graduated from the University of Alabama, hung a Crimson Tide shirt from his locker, which Meyer took down and placed in the neighboring locker upon seeing it. Upton, who was set to attend rival Florida State University before jumping to the Major Leagues, entered the clubhouse doing the Seminoles' trademark chop.
Upton later told Meyer: "You know what? I had to do it. I'm sorry. I had to do it. I couldn't not do it."
Meyer, a 13th-round selection in the 1982 First-Year Player Draft, also spoke with Rays manager Joe Maddon in Maddon's office before the game.
"I love talking to him. He's definitely into it. He loves baseball," Maddon said. "He definitely enjoys our team, and he's a great supporter."
No suspensions for Crawford, Maddon
ST. PETERSBURG -- Carl Crawford and Joe Maddon were not suspended by Major League Baseball for Tuesday night's incident with home-plate umpire Bob Davidson
"I don't really have feelings on whether it was right or wrong," Crawford said. "I'm just glad I'm not going to miss a game."
In the fifth inning of Tuesday night's 2-0 loss against the Red Sox, Crawford had just taken a pitch for a strike from Boston's Jon Lester, and Tampa Bay's left fielder appeared shocked when Davidson called the pitch strike. From there, a confrontation between Crawford and Davidson developed in which the bill of Crawford's helmet appeared to nip Davidson's nose. Maddon got involved when the confrontation escalated; Crawford and Maddon were ejected from the game.
When Crawford was asked if he had been worried about getting suspended, he answered: "Yeah, just because of the fact I had tipped his face a little bit. I'm just glad I'm not."
Maddon approved of the decision by Major League Baseball.
"I think it's accurate and just, and I felt they would come to that conclusion," Maddon said. "It doesn't matter if we lose me, it's great that it did not happen that way. I think they evaluated the whole situation properly. ... Let's keep [Crawford] on the field."
Neither Crawford nor Maddon knew what amount they were going to be fined.
Rodriguez's hustle, alert slide pays
ST. PETERSBURG -- Sean Rodriguez's hustle paid off in Thursday night's win against the White Sox.
Rodriguez was on second base when Jason Bartlett lifted a popup into foul territory behind first base. When White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham caught the ball, Rodriguez alertly tagged at second and took off for third base, sliding headfirst to the home-plate side of the bag and was called safe. He then scored the Rays' second run on a sacrifice fly by Crawford.
"Right away, you see it's a foul ball and you're taught to get back and tag, see how far it goes and what you've got," Rodriguez said. "As it's coming down, I saw that [Beckham's] momentum was still going that way. I'm like, 'You know what, I've got a shot at this.' Reid [Brignac] did a great job of baserunning; he tagged up behind me."
Rodriguez watched the third baseman to decide which side of the base to slide toward.
"Sometimes third basemen will [decoy] you like the ball's not coming," Rodriguez said. "So you watch the third-base coach. He'll usually tell you to get down and to which side. I actually do watch the third-base coach and [Tom Foley] does tell you to get down to one side."
Rays manager Joe Maddon described Rodriguez's play as "heady."
"I'm not here to tell you that everybody on our team would have done that," Maddon said. "He did."
Rodriguez being encouraged to play aggressively is "awesome."
"You want your manager to tell you, 'Hey, stay aggressive,'" Rodriguez said. "He says it, and [bench coach] Davey Martinez says it all the time: If we're going to make a mistake, if you're going to get caught doing something wrong, make sure it's on the aggressive side and not the passive side."
Shoppach's rehab stint begins Monday
ST. PETERSBURG -- The details of Kelly Shoppach's rehab assignment have been finalized, Rays manager Joe Maddon said Friday.
The catcher, on the disabled list with a right knee sprain, will start with Triple-A Durham on Monday for the first game of the Bulls' series against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Shoppach will start off catching five innings, then go seven innings and finally nine, with a game at designated hitter between each game behind the plate.
"On those DH days, it's subject to how he feels. If he feels as though he doesn't want to, then he can bang the DH that day," Maddon said, adding that Shoppach was "pretty confident" he will hit every day. "He doesn't have to. The days of DH-ing, we'll call that on a day-by-day basis. The other days will be five, seven, seven, nine."
After the seven-day rehab stint, Maddon said the team will re-evaluate Shoppach to determine if he is ready to get back on the field for the Rays. Maddon and Shoppach have said all along that his rehab was going on schedule and had not suffered any setbacks.
At one point, Maddon mentioned having Shoppach catch on back-to-back nights to put his knee to the test, but Maddon said Friday that was no longer a necessity.
"I talked to him about it," Maddon said. "He kind of convinced me that he'd be OK doing it this way, so I listened."
Hall & Oates to perform Saturday
ST. PETERSBURG -- Daryl Hall and John Oates will help turn back the clock in Tropicana Field on Saturday night, as the seven-time platinum recording artists will perform as part of the Rays' Summer Concert Series following the club's 7:10 p.m. game against the White Sox.
Hall & Oates, who will wrap up '80s Night, are best known for their six No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, one of which has a special meaning for Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon.
"Sara Smile," Maddon's favorite Hall & Oates song, was on the radio in the middle of the night when his daughter, Sarah, was born.
"The evening that she was born, I'm pretty certain that song was on," Maddon said. "Although the name had already been made up, and they do not have an 'H' on their 'Sara Smile.' Mine does."
Oates has had some experience singing in front of a Major League crowd. He sang the national anthem before Game 5 of the 2008 World Series in Philadelphia, an unexpected performance he described as "one of the craziest experiences I've ever had."
When asked if he would sing the anthem at a Rays home game in the World Series, Oates responded: "That would be hard. I'm a Philly diehard. But the Rays are at the top of their game now."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.