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10/03/08 5:07 PM ET

A pregame interview with Joe Maddon

Rays manager gets ready for Game 2 against the AL Central champs

Yesterday you listened The Stones on the way in for day one. What will it be day two? What did you listen to?

JOE MADDON: Same thing. I came in and I started blasting it, and it just gets you going. Takes you back to the '60s. That's where it all kind of begins where you start thinking things. It gets back to the grass roots.

So Springsteen is a little bit more reflective, The Stones a little more grass roots for me. Revealing my age right there a little bit.

Scott Kazmir during the course of the regular season said he got caught up with the pitch count and was thinking too much about mechanics. Will you, did you or can you say anything to help him relax today?

JOE MADDON: No, again, I really try to refrain from doing things like that. We talk all the time. Hicks does an excellent job with all of our pitchers. It's just something that with Kaz it's about fastball command.

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Actually, every pitcher in the Major Leagues is under some form of a pitch count. Actually, we are in life. We all have our own pitch count.

So when it comes down to that, I'm not really that concerned. It's just a matter of him going out there and getting into the flow of the game. It's just how he's thinking on that particular day. I'm not really overtly concerned with mechanics most of the time.

I believe, of course, everything has to be in order, but I do believe how you think is what controls the success or not. So we're just trying to get his thinking right, trying to get the tempo right in his delivery today.

The other day in workout him and Hick got together regarding tempo. Again, that might sound like an oversimplification, but sometimes it just comes down to that, whether you're going too slowly or too quickly through your delivery process.

I like it a little bit more with a little more pace to his delivery as opposed to more robotics. So we'll see how that works out.

Will you change anything at all about your travel routine this weekend?

JOE MADDON: No, I don't think so. We've got a 757, little bit more room. We're leaving after the game tonight. Tomorrow we'll have a workout at 1:00. It's going to be an hour and a half.

We'll stretch, play catch, bat, take hitting and just take batting practice. Go back, like them to go out and have a nice dinner tomorrow night, get some rest. So no, nothing's changing.

There's been a lot said and written about the Trop in the last few days. As the series shifts to Chicago, what kind of a field is that? Does it have any distinct personality or feel to you? How would you describe what it's like playing there?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, it does. First of all, they play really well there also. Second of all, they have a tremendous groundskeeper there, Bossard, I believe. He really tailors the entire infield to his defenders.

It will be a little bit wetter in one spot. It will be a little bit drier in another spot. It may be a little bit wet around first base because we can run. It may be a little bit wet in front of the plate because they hit more flyballs than groundballs. They're very good at tailoring the ballpark to their needs. They've always been that way.

Furthermore, the grass is normally a little bit thicker, although the last time we played there I thought it was a little bit quick. So we'll see how it looks. I'm anticipating a slower field on the first game, quite frankly.

And the ball carries. It really has a jet stream in the right field, normally down either line. It depends on whether it gets caught up in the middle of the field. Normally the jet stream is right center to right field. Very animated fans. They're into their Sox. They're very good fans.

I like it. I like what they did. At first I didn't like the ballpark. But once they redid the new ballpark, I think they've made some really nice adjustments. It's turned into one of the better ballparks in the League, I think. But again, they tailor the field according to their needs and the ball carries.

You just mentioned this ballpark, how difficult it is. How important is it to leave this place tonight up 2 0 with a chance to close this out at that place, as opposed to a fresh, brand new series?

JOE MADDON: Of course, we'd like to get to 2 0, but in keeping with our general theme, it's just about one game at a time. You never know what's going to happen on the next day.

Of course we'd prefer going up there 2 0, but we'll see how this game plays out tonight. If it did not run in our favor, it does not mean we'll react any differently to our next game. But to win and maintain serve in your own ballpark is important, because like I said, they're very good.

We were recently up there. I think we won 2 out of 3 up there and lost a very close game. But I know how difficult they are there in the past. I've been involved in Playoffs there in past.

Like I said, they've got a lot of tradition there. They got a great fan base, and a veteran ballclub. So you always want to take advantage of any situation and try to make it work in your favor; and obviously, winning today's game would do that.

What is the latest on Peña?

JOE MADDON: I just checked in with him. He's doing okay. I'm still going to wait. The report up until when I came in was that he's feeling really good, went to see the eye doctor. Everything appears to be well or good. He's taking batting practice right now. When he gets done, I will have another update for him and have him check in with me about 5:00 to see what he's doing. That's where it's at right now.

What do you expect out of Scotty today? And if he goes five, six innings, is anybody eligible in the bullpen or are you thinking about certain people in the bullpen besides the usual suspects?

JOE MADDON: I'd love to see him go five, six plus. That would be wonderful. The guys that pitched yesterday are available for today.

Saying that, theoretically perfectly, you would probably see the same guys today as you saw yesterday. The lineup's a little bit different in regard to the way it's stacked, but then again, it's similar.

We'll just try to match them up as well as we possibly can and take it from there. But the important thing is all the guys that pitched yesterday are still able to pitch today.

According to the lineup in the press box, you have Rocco starting in right. I know yesterday he said he was thrilled beyond words just to hear his name announced, but to take the field tonight and be able to contribute and make a difference, what a huge moment for Rocco.

JOE MADDON: It is. And for those that have been around us all year and the last couple years, you really have an understanding of that. Coming back from the disorder that he has and being able to participate now is remarkable.

I was talking to some of the other reporters prior to this, and obviously most of the credit goes to Rocco himself. But I also want to point out that our medical group has been fabulous. And Ron Porterfield, our trainer, has spearheaded all of this. And I know this from the previous off season how much time he put in researching the appropriate people for Rocco to see.

So, again, it's always up to the player himself to take care of the preponderance of the work, but Ronnie has really been diligent, tireless. He has a lot to do with Rocco being back right now. So it's been a combination of those three guys and some tremendous doctors, obviously. But it's Rocco plus Porter that's gotten him back.

Follow up on the ballpark question, specifically the jet stream. How much do you anticipate that possibly playing differently depending on what the weather is like out there, whether it cools down compared to the summer months.

JOE MADDON: Yeah, there could be a difference. We'll find out once we get up there, the weather specifically.

I don't know. I remember -- again, I don't remember if there was any home runs hit in those couple games. But, you're right, when it gets colder, it shouldn't carry as well. There is always a prevailing breeze, even though it looks like it might be blowing one way, the way the wind swirls or it always kicks out in that area, but we'll wait and see. Again, that's just the way the field plays. We can't be concerned with that. I don't want our pitchers to think anything differently and pitch people otherwise. It's just a matter of that's the way the field plays, be aware of it and just go about your business. But there is nothing you can really do about it.

Evan Longoria even made the USF football game highlights last night. The guy's everywhere.

JOE MADDON: I heard that. Ubiquitous. He is ubiquitous. I was asleep because I got back at 8:15. We ordered some Italian food, ate that. Watched a miniscule part of the Cubs game, fell asleep, and then I hear he was at that game last night.

I'm thinking, my God, that's what two homers and an RBI single will do for you. I was ten toes up. So more power to him, man. I have no problem with that whatsoever. I think it's great. I love the fact that our guys are getting involved in the community and supporting the other organizations and teams here.

I think it speaks to his youth and to the game he had yesterday. I couldn't do it, personally.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.