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Maddon invites a little pregame magic into clubhouse


ST. PETERSBURG -- On Saturday afternoon, manager Joe Maddon invited DJ Fresh into the Rays' clubhouse to lighten the mood and promised that he'd have another trick up his sleeve for Sunday's game. And once again, he delivered.

Maddon invited local magician Geoff Williams into the home clubhouse at Tropicana Field on Sunday morning to entertain Tampa Bay's players, coaches and staff. Players gathered around a table to watch Williams' act as the morning went on, and even senior adviser Don Zimmer was on the receiving end of a few card tricks and illusions.

Maddon brought in Williams on Sunday for the same reason he had DJ Fresh take over the clubhouse speakers Saturday: to keep his players relaxed and get their minds off what's gone wrong so far this season. It seemed to work Saturday night, at least.

"They were flying all over the place. I loved it. That was so fun to watch," Maddon said after the Rays' 1-0 win against the A's on Saturday. "The moment you're afraid to lose, you will. You can never be afraid to lose a baseball game if you want to be very successful."

Everyone in the clubhouse agrees that Maddon's even-keeled attitude is good for the club, because he never invites panic and maintains the same approach every day, but some Rays players didn't necessarily think they needed a turntable or a magic show to change their fortunes and build chemistry.

"I don't feel like we've been playing tight. I mean, we haven't been crushing the ball, but as far as everybody playing tight, I don't feel like that's been our problem," center fielder Desmond Jennings said Saturday. "I think everybody's loose. Everybody's in here pulling for each other. We feel like we're in a good position still. We stick together as a team, and we've got confidence in each other that we can turn things around."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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