CHICAGO -- Manny Ramirez was not with the team on Thursday. The veteran slugger had to deal with a "family matter," according to Rays manager Joe Maddon, but he is expected to join the team in time to play in Friday night's game.
"It's a personal thing," Maddon said. "It's something that we were aware of and it just so happens to be today. It is unavoidable."
Maddon said he thought that Ramirez would fly to Chicago on Thursday night.
"The schedule kind of bit him on this personal thing," Maddon said.
Maddon said he did not know if dealing with this problem will be an ongoing thing.
"It's one of those things where I think it might be over," Maddon said. "But you'd have to ask him, if he wants to speak to it. I'm not sure."
Ramirez, who came to the Rays as a free agent, is off to a slow start. After Wednesday's loss to the Angels, Ramirez was hitting .059 (1-for-17) with no home runs and one RBI.
Hitters continue to work the process
CHICAGO -- It's an understatement to say the Rays' hitting has not been good in the early going.
Entering Thursday's action, they had not held a lead in any game this season, and they had scored just seven runs on 21 hits through their first five games.
Ben Zobrist, who hit in the third spot Thursday against the White Sox, was indifferent about his spot in the order in relation to helping the team get out of its slump.
"I don't think it really matters where you're hitting in our lineup right now," Zobrist said. "I think everybody's just trying to put together good at-bats. And it's been hard to come by the first couple of games. And the ones that we have had that were good at-bats we felt like we hit hard right at somebody. Or people have made great plays, whatever it is, has kind of helped stymie our offense the first five games. I think if we just consistently put up good at-bats one through nine, we're going to come out of it and start scoring a lot of runs."
Mental games are a byproduct of prolonged slumps.
"You've got to forget about the results and work the process," Zobrist said. "The results will come after you work the process in the right way. And sometimes it doesn't come right away. And you can accept that if you're working the process the right way.
"It's hard to accept that when you feel like you're not working that process. That's what we're going to have to do is put together good at-bats, one after the other, and eventually balls are going to slip through. Things are going to start falling. We're going to hit balls hard, not at people. And we're going to get on some rolls."
Rays manager Joe Maddon believes in working the process as well.
"For me, I'm all about the process," Maddon said. "Being a former hitting coach I get it. I've seen guys go through these moments. It's unusual to see so many struggle to get hits at the same time. But breaking it down, we've had several balls hit pretty well which were outs. Those are the kind of things you've got to get to fall, then all of a sudden your confidence comes up and things begin to turn around.
"It's a long baseball season and it's all about process. It's all about today only. Win or lose, we have to come back tomorrow and try to play a good game of baseball. To this point, I'm not displeased about how we are playing. We just have not hit the ball well. So I'd like to believe, and I do believe that's going to change."
Fuld familiar with South Side ballpark as a fan
CHICAGO -- Outfielder Sam Fuld came to the Rays from the Cubs in an offseason trade. Prior to this season, he had played 98 games in parts of three Major League seasons. Thursday was the first time he'd played in a game at U.S. Cellular Field and just the second time he'd been inside the stadium.
Fuld began his professional career at Class A Peoria and drove to a White Sox game on an off-day to be a spectator.
"That's me," Fuld said. "I'm a baseball junkie. I can't get enough."
Fuld attended the game with friends. The White Sox were playing the Red Sox that day, and according to Fuld, "it was a lot better weather" than the 39 degrees that greeted the Rays on Thursday.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.