CLEVELAND -- The Rays took a .231 team batting average into Friday night's contest against the Indians, which prompted a line of questioning toward manager Joe Maddon about hitting coach Derek Shelton's performance.
When told that fans have not been bashful via talk radio shows and Twitter about pinning blame for the team's hitting woes on Shelton, Maddon rose to his defense.
"It's not fair for him to be criticized at all," Maddon said. "In today's world, it's so funny how sometimes people immediately want to have somebody's head when things aren't going so well. I'm always humored by that.
"Internally, you guys can see it. I can see it, how hard he works. How the players respond to him. We're not up to 100 percent strength right now, and so things are a little bit skewed. And in spite of that, we're in very good shape for a potential playoff situation at the end of the year. The offense, I can't even tell you it's underperformed at this point because so many people have been injured."
Maddon noted how much he has appreciated the work that Shelton does, how diligent he is, how hard he works, and how dedicated he is to his profession.
"So for those who want to go in that direction, please reference to them that [the Rays] have one of the hardest working hitting coaches in all of Major League Baseball working here right now," Maddon said.
Maddon was asked if fans needed a better understanding about what an effective hitting coach should be doing.
"When you have really good offensive players, an effective hitting coach looks like he's an even more effective hitting coach," Maddon said. "When you're working with a team that has a lot of injuries and a lot of guys are getting more at-bats than they should, then probably sometimes that's going to reflect on him as not doing that good of a job. And I totally disagree with that.
"For me, a bad hitting coach is one who is not dedicated to his profession. Is one who is probably not trying to remain contemporary with what's going on in the game today, not trying to utilize all the information that's at his disposal. That would be a guy that would be more worrisome or bothersome. Whereas a guy like Shelty, who does all of that stuff well, people are definitely barking up the wrong tree."