02/16/08 3:56 PM ET
Notes: DiFelice impresses in camp
Veteran backstop vying for second tour with revamped Rays
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
DiFelice, 38, is a non-roster invitee in camp competing for the backup catcher position.
"DiFelice does a nice job," said the Rays manager. "He's well spoken, well thought-out, and he has a professional sternness about him."
DiFelice was an original member of the Devil Rays in 1998. He started 228 games as the backup catcher to John Flaherty in the Rays' first four seasons. He has since been well traveled, spending time with the Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Royals, Tigers, Cubs and Mets before making his return to St. Petersburg.
DiFelice sees differences in the organization from when he last donned a Rays uniform.
"Obviously, just the appearance of the team has changed, as far as the uniform and that type of thing," DiFelice said. "I think -- and it's only been a few days -- I think early on, we were trying to find an identity. It was our first year. [We wondered,] 'What do we have? Who are our personnel?' Now, these guys, I think the first thing I've noticed here, these guys have a lot of things in place.
"The team is kind of in place. There's a plan, a structure, and a philosophy that's built. And I think that's kind of what I've noticed in the brief time I've been here ... [Initially,] there was too much stuff going on within the team to try and go out and play other teams."
About Kaz ... : Scott Kazmir cut loose with some bold talk on Friday about the Rays playing in October this season. The words of the Rays' prized left-hander played well in the clubhouse.
"That's the attitude you want," said Cliff Floyd, who arrived at camp on Saturday. "We've all been young. I played with the Marlins -- when you talked about October, you talked about where you're going to workout. That's just how it was. But when you have young guys talking like that, that's the attitude you want to have. I don't care about anything else [than winning].
"Our guys talking like that so early in their career, that's definitely a bonus for our part, and a bonus for the Rays organization. When you have the mentality of some of these young guys speaking up now, nobody wants to be embarrassed. Everybody wants to win. And if you're not trying to win, you shouldn't be out here."
James Shields and Kazmir have a friendly competition as the team's No. 1 and No. 2 starters. Kazmir's remark about playing in October left room for someone else -- perhaps Shields -- to predict the Rays would win the World Series.
Shields wouldn't take the bait.
"I'm not going to make any predictions," said Shields with a smile. "I do know this: We're going to be competitive during the season."
Added Maddon: "If you don't believe it, you'll never see it."
This and that: The Rays hot stove radio show, "Countdown to Opening Day," will broadcast live from Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill Monday on Monday at 7 p.m. ET on WDAE 620 AM. Ferg's is located at 1320 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg, adjacent to Tropicana Field (727-822-4562). Monday's show will feature Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Gerry Hunsicker and pitcher Matt Garza. ... Juan Salas was not in camp on Saturday. The right-hander continues to have a visa problem. ... Catcher Dioner Navarro has not returned from Caracas, Venezuela, where his mother is hospitalized after suffering a brain aneurysm on Feb. 8. ... Maddon was struck by Floyd's size: "He's more like a 'V'. He's a big man."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.