Maddon still fond of former Rays Gomes, Balfour

Maddon still fond of former Rays Gomes, Balfour

ST. PETERSBURG -- Two of the Rays' most popular players are in town for the weekend series with the Athletics, Grant Balfour and Jonny Gomes.

"Two of my favorite players that we've ever had here," Maddon said. "A lot of it's based on not only being good, but the emotion for the game. And they fit our culture extremely well."

When asked about a favorite memory from either of the former Rays, Maddon brought up the scrum that occurred in 2008 at Al Lang Field after Shelly Duncan of the Yankees went into Akinori Iwamura at second base with his spikes high. Gomes charged to second base immediately and a brawl ensued.

"How he reacted at Al Lang is what Jonny's all about," Maddon said. "That was sticking up for his teammates, [he's] never going to run away from the action."

Balfour, who now closes for the Athletics, still lives in Clearwater, Fla., with his wife and 11-month-old daughter. He remembered the 2008 season and the fun they had as a team as his fondest memory while a Ray.

"Joe [Maddon] allows you to have fun," Balfour said. "He lets you go out there and have fun. I think you see a lot of guys come here have good years because [the way he manages] allows him to get the most out of them."