Maddon's menagerie helps keep players loose

Maddon's menagerie helps keep players loose

ST. PETERSBURG -- Over the course of the homestand, the Rays have had in their clubhouse a DJ, a magician and, on Tuesday afternoon, a cockatoo named Mindy.

Manager Joe Maddon paraded around the clubhouse with the bird, who came to the park from nearby Sunken Gardens, on his left shoulder prior to going outside to conduct his pregame meeting with the media, also with the bird perched on his shoulder.

"A beautiful bird, and we're very fortunate to be permitted to have her out here today," Maddon said. "Just another little diversion. … I've always wanted one of these."

The Rays limped home following a 2-7 road trip but are 4-0 since returning. Maddon noted that part of the reasoning behind having the attractions in the clubhouse is to "lighten things up."

"I think a lot of times, it gets confused when things aren't going well. It's not because your guys aren't working hard enough or they don't care enough," Maddon said. "Sometimes it's just not working. Let's go and take the other road less traveled with a bird in the clubhouse."

Outfielder Matt Joyce noted that very little could surprise him based on what he's seen in the clubhouse during this homestand, but he allowed that there's a method to Maddon's madness.

"I guess you get so wrapped up in playing baseball ... that anything you can do to take your mind off the game and all the failure that surrounds the game is definitely a welcome change of mindset," Joyce said.

Not everybody in the clubhouse buys in to everything that is done in the name of remaining loose. There are times when players will roll their eyes at their manager's antics, but Maddon always follows through, regardless.

"I guess he understands that everybody is different," Joyce said. "So not everybody is going to think the bird is the coolest thing in the world, but there's going to be a couple of guys who really get a kick out of it. For those guys, maybe it means a little bit more than for some of the other guys. But we're also a team. Not everybody's the same; you kind of have to appease everybody."

Reliever Joel Peralta, a native of the Dominican Republic, teased that Maddon needed to take care of his Dominican players when entertaining.

"He needs to do something for [the Dominicans] or we're walking," said Peralta with a smile.

When told of Peralta's demands, Maddon noted that he had something planned for them during Spring Training but backed off.

"I should have done it in Spring Training," he said, though he declined to provide specifics.

Maddon leaked that he has a surprise in store for the players on Wednesday, saying only, "It will be another member of the animal kingdom."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.