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Rays staying motivated amid smooth start

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DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Everything seems to be going the Rays' way this spring, from the team's health to the way it is playing. That early excellence prompted a question to Joe Maddon regarding whether he was worried his team was looking too good entering Friday's game.

From his response, the Rays manager clearly has no problem with his team playing well.

"No, from the very beginning when you have the first meetings with the guys, then you have the individual meetings, it's such an accountable group of guys," Maddon said. "...They're motivated, and they're good. We have good guys here. I'm not concerned.

"I anticipated a pretty good camp, a smooth camp. The win-loss record is nice and all that, but I'm talking about their work -- it's really, really wonderful. And communication is good. They're open, and that's what makes it really exciting."

Rays pitchers have highlighted the team's glow, but Maddon also had nice words for Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, Matt Joyce, Desmond Jennings and Yunel Escobar.

"The pitching's been wonderful; we actually have two errors, but it's listed as one," Maddon said. "But that's pretty darn good. ... At-bats continue to get better. You see Zobrist with a stiff back, come back and hit the ball well. Longo looks pretty good with his setup. Matty Joyce is hitting the ball hard. Jennings. Escobar's been all over everything. ... Conversationally there's a quiet confidence among the group and I kind of like that."

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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