Maddon visiting Hazleton on Rays' off-day

Maddon visiting Hazleton on Rays' off-day

ST. PETERSBURG -- Manager Joe Maddon will spend the Rays' off-day on Monday attending the grand opening of the Hazleton Integration Project's Hazleton One Community Center.

"It'll be kind of neat, actually," Maddon said earlier this weekend. "I mean, two or three years now in the making, to finally be at the point where we have a building, cut the ribbon, open the door and then we can go ahead with all the programs we've been talking about. It's very significant to our area up there, because I really believe that it was kind of dying off. We need to really grow again, and I think a big part of the growth will be the acceptance and the embracing of the Hispanic community into the Hazleton community."

Maddon said he was proud of the project and what it's accomplishing but acknowledged that his work is only a small part of what's happening in his Pennsylvania hometown.

"It's going to be kind of interesting to see how it all plays out," he said. "I'm really excited about that, plus the potential of surrounding communities to become involved in the same kind of deal.

"It's necessary. It's needed. It's where we're going, and if we don't pay attention to it, it'll get away from us and a lot of negatives could creep in. I think this is the first positive step that we're trying to do, but it's just part of what needs to be done overall in the area. It's getting better."

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