ST. PETERSBURG -- Eric Hinske returned to Tropicana Field in a Braves uniform on Friday night. The veteran slugger will always be remembered by Rays fans as an integral part of the team's 2008 American League championship.
Rays manager Joe Maddon spoke fondly of Hinske, first recalling a motivational speech to the team made by Monte Kiffin, then the defensive coordinator of the NFL's Buccaneers. During the speech, Kiffin misspoke, referring to "Hinske" as "Pinske" and the name stuck in the clubhouse.
Hinske "had a great influence on our World Series year," Maddon said. "He's a really good baseball player. He plays the game well.
"Him and Cliff [Floyd] and Percy [Troy Percival], Danny Wheeler, those guys are really so big in the paradigm shift here. ... A lot of it is because of those guys and how they [raised] our young [players]. They were the guys in the clubhouse who did most of the really good work with our young players and showed them the right way."