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Notes and quotes from today’s press conference

Posted Feb 1, 2011 by Roger Mooney

Updated Feb 1, 2011 at 07:31 PM

BY ROGER MOONEY

ST. PETERSBURG – A lot was covered this afternoon at the Trop during and after the press conference to announce the signings of Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon as the newest Rays.


Here are some highlights …

Rays manager Joe Maddon on where Ramirez will bat in the order:

“I don’t know, before or after (Evan Longoria). The argument is this: before Longo, (Ramirez) is also a high on-base percentage guy who will give Longo more opportunities to drive in runs. Then, again, you want to make sure Longo gets pitched to, so there’s the rub of wanting him to hit behind Longo.”

Maddon said Damon is a high on-base percentage hitter so he will stay at the top of the order. Whether it’s leadoff or second remains to be seen. Maddon said John Jaso can stay at the top with Damon second or vise versa. B.J. Upton can still be the leadoff hitter against lefties. Maddon also said he has no problems batting two lefties – Damon and Jaso – at the top of the order because he can always pinch-hit for one in the later innings.

Rays executive vice president of baseball Andrew Friedman said the primary focus this offseason was Damon, who has said he wanted to play in Tampa Bay, which is close to his Windermere, Fla., home.

They were also interested in Ramirez and consider themselves fortunate when Ramirez showed an interest in coming to Tampa Bay, even if it means playing for $2 million, or $18 million less than what he played for last season.

“Sure, anytime you go through your dream scenarios on how things unfold during the offseason, often times they don’t happen,” Friedman said. “It’s a competitive industry, and for one reason or another, the timing aspect factors into it. There are a lot of different variables that make it difficult. When it does, it’s extremely rewarding and we feel it’s something that fits us very well.”

Friedman on if he thinks Ramirez will be motivated to play for the Rays:

“He wanted to be here. He’s extremely motivated. He wanted to get back in the American League East. He wanted to play with Johnny. It’s something for us, we’re extremely excited about the upside potential. And, again, the key is he wanted to be here.”

Friedman on why he wanted Ramirez:

“Manny was a great fit for us in a lot of ways in terms of the added depth in terms of injuries or lack of performance from some of the younger guys. What it does is extend our roster. For us it’s the perfect fit. While one, obviously, makes our lineup better. Adding both potentially allows us to go to the next level.”

Friedman on if getting these two former Red Sox was in any way revenge for the Red Sox signing Carl Crawford:

“We’re never going to win an offseason. It’s something that we’re going to have to respect the challenges that we have, the way he have to go about our business in different ways. It might be nice in some respects. It didn’t drive the decision at all. More importantly is the fact they’ve competed in this division for so long and have had the success that they’ve had and know what it takes, and that’s something that’s going to benefit us greatly.”

Friedman said the corresponding moves to clear space on the 40-man roster for Damon and Ramirez will be made Wednesday.

Friedman also said he has not given up his search for a closer.

 

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