ST. PETERSBURG -- Just when you thought you'd seen everything inside the Rays' clubhouse...
Looking to loosen up his players and create a group of "25 cowboys out there" who aren't worried about making mistakes, Rays manager Joe Maddon invited DJ Fresh into the clubhouse Saturday afternoon to play some music and create a more relaxed vibe. DJ Fresh, whose real name is Doug Hensel, is a former Tampa Bay batboy and current in-house entertainer at Tropicana Field.
"It was Day Rave 1. I wanted to have our guys prep for tonight's game in another way," Maddon said. "I'm not that manager that really is into an extra hundred swings before every game every night. I think that can be counterproductive. I want our guys to chill out a little bit, go out there and play hard and not be afraid about making mistakes, ever.
"This is my way of getting the point across, come out here and do what you've been doing since February, getting ready for the season. Go out there and play it hard and leave it on the field and don't worry about anything else."
Maddon has long been a proponent of keeping the clubhouse atmosphere consistent from day to day, so that the players don't get too down on themselves or press too hard to make something positive happen. Saturday's guest appearance by DJ Fresh was motivated by the same desire, and it seemed to work. Several Rays players took pictures, bobbed their heads, danced and laughed at the new addition to the clubhouse.
"I think it's funny, but it's not surprising," Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings said. "At this point, nothing really surprises me."
Maddon added that DJ Fresh was just a "one-day gig" for now, but he has something different planned for Sunday morning. The Rays' seemingly annual roster overhaul requires them to introduce their newest players to Maddon's unique clubhouse culture, and Maddon said DJ Fresh was just another way to do that.
"Whatever it takes these guys to relax and permit their natural abilities to come out, I will happily do," Maddon said. "I want to see 25 cowboys out there. I just want to see 25 guys out there never worried about making a mistake, period. Never worried about making a mistake. I still think guys that are getting used to being here don't quite believe that yet, because I'm sure they have not heard that refrain in the past.
"When it comes to physical mistakes, I'll take as many as you need to make. It's the mental mistakes that beat you. You're going to make more mental mistakes by being tentative. I don't want us to be tentative. I don't want us to be worried about making mistakes. I want us to go out there, play it as hard as we can for nine innings ... and I go home, and I sleep well. When I see that, I go home, and I sleep well regardless of the outcome of the game."