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Maddon reassures pitchers in meeting

Maddon reassures pitchers in meeting

ST. PETERSBURG -- Starting pitching is supposed to be the backbone of the Rays, but entering Sunday, the starters had not been as consistent as expected, prompting a pregame meeting between the hurlers and manager Joe Maddon.

Entering Sunday afternoon's game, Tampa Bay starters had a 15-16 record with a 5.17 ERA.

The meeting lasted approximately 40 minutes.

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"I just wanted to go over some things with them," Maddon said. "It was a nice conversation. It was a nice give and take, that's what I planned on. I just wanted them to get comfortable with everything and let them know that I have all the confidence in the world in all of them. It was just kind of a pep talk."

Maddon said he has held similar meetings in the past, just not as the manager of the Rays. He characterized the meeting as one with "great conversation."

"We lost a lot of close games early on," Maddon said. "We're probably not where we wanted to be. At that point I was just concerned that people were thinking the wrong things. So I wanted to make sure everybody was thinking the same things and move forward."

Maddon allowed himself a chuckle about the different personalities of the Rays' pitchers in the meeting.

"[Matt] Garza was in there, [Jeff] Niemann was in there to counter-balance Garza, and [Andy] Sonnanstine," Maddon said. "[Scott] Kazmir ... and [James] Shields is kind of perfect. A little bit of this, a little bit of that."

Maddon said there was not one burning issue to be addressed in the meeting.

"No, we just have not been pitching as we can as a group, and I just wanted to cover all aspects of that," Maddon said. "I just again wanted to demonstrate my confidence in them. Again, I wanted to demonstrate my confidence in them and see if they had anything they wanted to talk about to get it off their chests. It was just a conversation between me and the starting pitchers, and [pitching coach Jim] Hickey."

And afterward?

"We had a little Kumbaya moment," Maddon said. "It was nice."

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

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