Maddon holds outfield crew in high esteem

Maddon holds outfield crew in high esteem

ST. PETERSBURG -- The way manager Joe Maddon sees it, the Rays have the ability to run out one of the best defensive outfields in baseball every day, whether it's Ben Zobrist or Matt Joyce roaming around right field.

The Rays had to mix and match early on, with center fielder B.J. Upton rehabbing an injured back. With Upton in center, Desmond Jennings is back in left field, and Zobrist and Joyce can platoon in right.

"I do believe it is one of the best I've seen," Maddon said Tuesday. "You talk about range, arms, fundamental soundness and the fact that they're still pretty young. It's a group that rivals among the best in all of baseball."

Maddon described Zobrist, who splits time in right field and second base, as "one of the most fundamentally sound outfielders in the game, period." Referencing the famous instructional baseball videos, Maddon smiled as he remarked Zobrist's outfield defense was "Tom Emanski quality."

"I know he doesn't play there all the time, but if you watch him and how he gets the ball and how he gets rid of baseballs and how well he throws and how quickly he dumps it -- everything he does out there is textbook," Maddon said. "That's the part I really appreciate about him being out there. ... Zo is going to listen, and then he's going to try to apply exactly what you're asking him to apply."