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Rays' equipment manager can do it all

Rays' equipment manager can do it all

Rays' equipment manager can do it all
ST. PETERSBURG -- Behind the scenes, Chris Westmoreland gets the job done. And few find themselves with as much to do in preparation for Opening Day than the Rays' equipment and home clubhouse manager.

"Westy," as he's known to all, is the go-to guy in the clubhouse. Anything that happens inside the clubhouse -- from the food that's ordered for pre- and postgame meals to the equipment that the players use to the uniforms they wear -- comes under his jurisdiction. If Evan Longoria wants a certain kind of tape to use on his wrist, Westy gets it. If B.J. Upton wants certain bats to be stocked, Westy does it. Get the idea?

The Rays open the season at Tropicana Field on April 1, a date that looms for Westmoreland, 39, who is entering his 14th season with the organization and his ninth in his current position. His mild manner and calm is amazing considering all the work and coordination that he must do and oversee prior to the opener.

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Westmoreland said he and his clubhouse staff have learned how to handle the assignment over the years.

"There's a pretty big workload, but what I've noticed is that the most important thing is looking ahead and trying to anticipate not only our team, but our staff and their tendencies once we get into the season," Westmoreland said. "Knowing what they're going to want when we work out for that first day at Tropicana Field."

Looking ahead involves some forecasting on the part of the 2007 Rays co-employee of the year. Take the example of the players' uniforms.

"Usually halfway through spring, I put in what I think will be the Opening Day order, and that's all the uniforms for the guys that I think will make the team," Westmoreland said. "That's a complete guess. But that's another thing, you want to try and eliminate as many errors as you can in that because there's a lot of work heading into Opening Day, to get those guys you missed."

And remember that these uniforms meet the standards of a tailor who takes care of a popular entertainer.

"At this level, everything is customized, from their pants to their jerseys, they are specifically tailored for them," Westmoreland said. "So that makes it difficult too, because if I put in an Opening Day order and a couple of weeks later, for example, say Manny Ramirez wants to change his pants, now I have to change that Opening Day order again."

The equipment the players use is another matter that requires constant monitoring and tweaking.

"Basically during Spring Training, every bat and glove distributor comes through camp and the players talk to them about what they want for Opening Day, and it's up to me to decide who I think is going to be on the team and who I order for," Westmoreland said. "Usually it's sitting at Tropicana Field when we get there for Opening Day."

Rays manager Joe Maddon called Westmoreland the best clubhouse and equipment manager he's been around during his career.

"And I'd stack him up against anyone," Maddon said. "He's in the service industry basically. Some guys will be surly on certain days or they'll roll their eyes when you ask them for something. He's never like that.

"He's always about helping everybody out, getting it done and getting it done in advance. He's also very thoughtful in a sense. He almost reads your mind. He's like Radar O'Reilly. He'll know in advance what to do when reading the situation you're in."

Getting ready for Opening Day involves less anxiety these days for Westmoreland, which he attributes to the Rays being a first-class organization. And like an umpire, where Westmoreland's job is concerned, silence says it all.

"As a rule of thumb, if you don't hear anything you're probably doing OK," Westmoreland said.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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