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10/06/08 3:47 PM ET

Pregame interview with Joe Maddon

Rays manager offers insight into team's mood, pressure

Just talk about the mood of the team. You said all year you gave the guys half hour after a game win or lose. Did that linger at all? Also, what do you think of Floyd?

JOE MADDON: It did not linger. I thought our guys were great. They're fine in the clubhouse right now. I really did not anticipate them to be overtly upset after yesterday's game. I thought we played well. I thought we played well yesterday. They outpitched us basically.

Danks is very good. I thought our guy pitched very well, Matt. So there was really nothing to be upset about. We lost the game, but sometimes you play well and lose. And I'm okay with that.

What was the second half of the question? Oh Floyd yes. I've never seen him before. I am just going off of reports. And I know he's had a great record this year. I know about his fastball and the break pitch, the cutter, the change, all that kind of good stuff.

His OPS is much higher against lefties than righties and we have several righties. He's got good numbers for the season. I've been asking around, people that have seen him, I know he is very good. Again I have never having seen him in person. It's always difficult to make a true evaluation. So post game today I'll have a better feel for him. But you know he's been very good this year.

Joe, Ozzie Guillen says the pressure is on your team to wrap it up. He cited 2005 when his team won the World Series and said the pressure was on us to get that game to end the series. Do you feel the same way?

JOE MADDON: I just believe it's another game for us. It's really nice that -- every game there's a certain amount of pressure on every game you play all season long. We strive not to create any more weight on any particular game. I just want our guys to go out there and play the same.

It's always semantics and always about perception in regard to how people want to identify a particular moment. So for me, that's beautiful that Ozzie would want to throw that our direction. I love him.

But for us I just want us to go out and play our game today.

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Would it definitely be Shields for a fifth game? And would you possibly have Kazmir available?

JOE MADDON: You know, as of right now we've been set up that way from Game 1. Again, our focus is on today. If it were to get to tomorrow then everybody would be available, yeah.

Joe, you've been around the game a long time. Just wondering how you evaluate Evan Longoria's progress this year and if you compare him to anyone that you have seen before?

JOE MADDON: Evan has really progressed well. I saw him first of all last year, not this spring training but the previous one, and had heard all about him. You see the real lightning speed in the bat. I did not know he was this good of a defender. Heard that he was good, but I didn't know he was this good.

I understood coming from Long Beach State I know the people that run the program out there for years, Mike Weathers is there now. Long Beach State players always come well prepared to professional baseball. So I knew he had that pedigree so that was always interesting.

When you get on the field with him and watch out a daily basis you knew he was going to be very good. I don't even know if very good is adequate. He is going a special player with the course of time.

He is still very young and inexperienced. So you are seeing a very good player right now but it's going to keep getting better. Again, I think he has the kind of make up that's going to permit that to happen. Also, he enjoys this. And he goes about his business, I believe, the right way. I think he is very calm. And he does enjoy the moment which I think is very important in becoming as good as he's going to become. From day one I've liked him and I think where he comes from is very important also.

Were you at all surprised by some of the aggressive base running by the White Sox yesterday? They're not exactly known for that?

JOE MADDON: Honestly I wasn't.

Just reading what they had been talking about, they were looking for an opportunity once they got on top they started to go a little more. I thought the big play was we had a pretty good chance of throwing out Wise and we did not on that one, the steal that he scored eventually on Pierzynski's single. That was our best chance. That was a high fastball and good location to throw. Otherwise he ran on breaking balls. I don't know if they're peeking or not. They might be peeking in and getting our signs.

I wasn't surprised. If you permit them to do it, they'll do it and we know that. They played a good game yesterday. And we just have to be better prepared for it today.

Joe, what do you see from Navi he is obviously off to a hard start in these three games. Seeing anything different or a guy seizing the opportunity here?

JOE MADDON: I think he is not trying to do too much offensively. You see the line drive to right field the other day for RBI, hitting right handed. Hit the double to left field. That was just -- Danks made a mistake. But then the softy to left center, even the other day the base hit that spun out when Rocco scored from first base. Again going over to that side of the field.

His mental approach is very good right now. I know he likes to play up the middle of the field first which is always a good way to go about hitting. He is not trying to do too much best way to categorize it and that's a great way to hit.

What kind of effect do you think it can be having a guy like Sonnanstine come in throwing the way he does after two hard throwers like Kazmir and Garza?

JOE MADDON: Definitely a change of pace for them. It's still going to matter regardless of that it's going to matter most that he throws the fastball where he wants to. They're definitely going to be ready for today's game after what happened yesterday and furthermore the crowd involvement here really helps them a lot.

I just think Andy has to get out strong and pitch well the first couple innings and then settle in. More importantly -- that's the most important part about this I think for him toss get out strong. Keep them in check early and permit us hopefully to get on top.

It's little bit differently obviously than what they've been seeing to this point and he has been pitching well. The last start out defense Detroit maybe not so well but he matched up against Beckett pretty well over the course of the last month. Did not get wins but pitched well at Boston and at home. I think he's throwing the ball possibly as well as I've seen him all year for the last month with regards to his velocity and location and depth on his breaking ball.

I just want to see Andy get through the first couple and I think he'll settle in nicely.

After watching him play for years and watching him first hand in '05 do to you guys what some others couldn't do is there a Pierzynski factor when it comes to playing the White Sox?

JOE MADDON: The thing about him, I described some of our players in a positive vain I think and he is not affected. That's the whole point. He is not affected. He does come up big in big moments. And that's more power to him. He plays, he's got a brashness about him, and he's ultracalm. That works to his credit.

So, you know, he's been very clutch for them in the past. I've seen it up front in the past. And again you have to know where he is at all the time. Whenever you are playing him you always got to know where Pierzynski's at when you are playing the White Sox. And he is a good player. I've had a lot of admiration for how well he plays in big games.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.