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Floyd a leader among young Rays

Floyd leading by example

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Right knee surgery forced Cliff Floyd to miss 30 games earlier this season, but the Rays slugger is back and has found his power stroke.

Floyd -- who as a left-handed hitter was not in Sunday's starting lineup against White Sox southpaw Mark Buehrle -- takes a five-game hitting streak into Tuesday's game, including three straight starts with a home run.

"Another big at-bat for us," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's going to do that often this year -- I really have a lot of faith in him. He's a force within our lineup."

Although the recent power surge -- especially Friday night's walk-off shot -- has Floyd in good spirits, the veteran is quick to deflect praise.

"Home runs are kind of crazy, they come in bunches sometimes," he said. "Lately I've been telling myself to get in there and swing like I know I can ... [and] start feeling good. I'm confident where I'm at."

The veteran has also done a commendable job instilling that confidence in his young teammates. Although not quite as vocal as closer Troy Percival, Floyd has a "tremendous impact" according to Maddon.

The skipper pointed to Floyd's solo home run on Friday in which the Rays rushed onto Tropicana Field. But there were no hugs or celebratory high-fives until the Floyd had finally crossed the plate.

"They were waiting on Cliff Floyd [on Friday] night, and that really stood out for me -- what they think of him," Maddon said.

"Cliff from the very first day I met him among the position players, he had that influence," Maddon continued. "Whereas Percy had it with the pitchers and the catchers. Both of them equally have made that kind of imprint on all our guys already, and they cross over."

In light of Percival's recent move to the 15-day disabled list, it can be argued that even more of the leadership role has been thrust onto Floyd's broad shoulders.

But the beloved slugger says, so far, he hasn't had to do much leading. The Rays are sporting chemistry and a record that is improving every day, and the winning attitude is contagious.

"If I see something I don't like, I'll speak up," Floyd said. "But other than that, I don't do much talking."

He's been letting his bat do that.

Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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