Maddon alters Saturday plans

Maddon alters Saturday plans

ST. PETERSBURG -- With the Rays scheduled to play split-squad affairs in Tampa and Lake Buena Vista on Saturday against the Yankees and Braves, Rays manager Joe Maddon has opted to change his travel plans by going to Tampa and sending shortstop Jonny Gomes to Orlando.

"Yes, I was going to do the managerial tough guy thing by taking the long bus ride [to Lake Buena Vista]," Maddon said. "But based on the situation, I had a change of heart.

"This was all me. I just looked at it, and I felt like I had to be there for that particular game. Again, from our side, we're just going to play baseball, that's it. But I really felt that I need to be there."

Last Saturday, the first incident of the budding Rays-Yankees spring rivalry came to pass when Tampa Bay reserve Elliot Johnson steamrolled New York catcher Francisco Cervelli at home plate, breaking Cervelli's right wrist in the process. On Wednesday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Shelley Duncan retaliated for the Yankees by going into second base with his spikes high, cutting Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura on his right thigh.

This Saturday, the Rays will be taking a seasoned group to Legends Field to face the Yankees. Making the trip will be Akinori Iwamura, Jason Bartlett, Willy Aybar, Joel Guzman, Eric Hinske, Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Cliff Floyd, Mike DiFelice, Hector Gimenez, Josh Paul, Jeff Niemann, Andy Sonnanstine, Dan Wheeler, Gary Glover, Grant Balfour and Scott Munter.

Maddon said he did not make up a special lineup for the trip.

"Honestly I put that [lineup] together a week in advance," Maddon said. "I make a week's worth of lineups. I do. I make a week's worth of lineups, and that was actually done in advance of the event of the other day. If you look at the at-bats, they've really been balanced out this Spring Training. I've been trying to do that. ... This was just fortuitous."

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However, there was one adjustment, as Gomes was re-routed from playing against the Yankees to suiting up against the Braves.

"I took Gomes out of the New York game and put him in the Atlanta game," Maddon said. "There was no reason to send Jon [to the Yankees game] right now. I think [it would have been] the wrong thing to do based on the recent events. He'll get his chance to play against them, but for right now -- until this thing settles down -- I thought it was the appropriate thing to do."

Gomes was fine with his manager's decision.

"Perfect, I don't want to go," Gomes said. "I want it to be squashed. [Let's] get over the circus, totally."

Johnson also will be on the bus to Lake Buena Vista.

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