Baserunning focus on decision-making, not steals

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Rays manager Joe Maddon was asked how he thought the overall baserunning of his team would look this season and he offered to "go around the horn" in the following response:

"James Loney, good baserunner, not exceptionally fast. Kelly Johnson, can be a plus. He's a very good baserunner and can steal bases. [Yunel] Escobar, also, given the right moment. He's your classic situational guy, if you give him more opportunities, I think he's going to take advantage of that. [Evan Longoria], with his legs, let's see how that works out. Outfield-wise, Desmond [Jennings] is [above average], [Ben] Zobrist, I think he'll have a better year than he had last year. [Sam Fuld is] good."

Maddon noted that the Rays aren't necessarily looking for stolen bases out of this year's team.

"Just the ability to make good decisions, the ability to go first to third and second to home," Maddon said. "We've been working on that already. I think sometimes people equate good baserunning with the number of stolen bases and we like that, but for us it's making sure we run the bases well."

As for the overall speed of this year's team, Maddon noted that the team has "lost some fast guys" including B.J. Upton, who stole 31 bases last season.

"Speed-wise [we] may have taken a little bit of a hit," Maddon said. "It's going to be hard for us to accumulate the same number of stolen bases I think. But we can still steal some bases. And the big thing is that we run the bases properly."

Maddon and company like to preach aggressiveness on the basepaths, particularly to the new players.

"Yes, they've heard it a lot already," Maddon said.