ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays went back to basics before Tuesday's 7-2 loss
against the White Sox.
Instead of taking regular batting-practice drills, players practiced basic fielding and throwing drills for the first time since Spring Training.
"We have a lot of new guys and I've always liked to do a refresher course during the season," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "During Spring Training, you do this stuff often and then all of the sudden, the next seven months, you don't do this stuff at all. I don't believe in that. I believe that you need to work on these little things during the course of the year to keep up the communication."
Maddon added that the upcoming trip to National League opponent Miami, where pitchers will be required to bat, along with the numerous roster changes since the start of the season, factored into the decision.
"Pitchers have not really been involved in their pickoffs a lot or even [pitchers' fielding practice] a lot lately," Maddon said. "All these kind of things need a refreshing."
Tampa Bay's defense, which was generally considered to be a major strength of the team at the beginning of the year, has struggled by giving up 42 errors in 49 games. Only three teams in the Major Leagues have more errors, including American League East foe Baltimore, which is the only team with more errors (44) in the AL.
The defense does figure to get a boost in the future as outfielder Desmond Jennings is slated to have a rehab assignment likely in a week. Maddon also said that third baseman Evan Longoria is still about three weeks from "real activity."