PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) - Tampa Bay's guest manager looked and played the part.
Raheem Morris slipped on a Rays uniform, carried the lineup card to home plate, pulled his starting pitcher in the fourth inning and boasted ``I'm 1-0' after beating the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 in 10 innings Tuesday.
``It was all about Raheem,' said Rays manager Joe Maddon, who invited the Buccaneers coach and his staff to spend a day in spring training with the AL East champions.
``I gave him the game ball,' Maddon said. ``He did a great job with the pitching change. ... There was nice conversation during the course of the game. It was a fun day.'
Morris posed for pictures with the umpire crew before the game and signed autographs afterward for fans lining the railing up the first base line adjacent to the home team dugout.
The day began with a long-drive golf contest won by center fielder B.J. Upton. Although Morris declined Maddon's invitation to take batting practice, receivers coach Eric Yarber accepted and fielded ground balls from the skipper, too.
``It takes a lot of guts to come out and do what he did because he hasn't played in 30 years,' Maddon said of Yarber, who received some hitting advice from All-Star Evan Longoria and Rays first base coach George Hendrick.
Asked if he believed any of the Rays might be capable of helping the Buccaneers, Morris joked that he detected the ``swagger' of a linebacker in Longoria and that he might be able to convert Upton into a productive cornerback if he could get him to tackle.
As for standing in for Maddon against the Blue Jays?
``All I've got to do is look serious and spit seeds,' the NFL's youngest coach said.
Right-hander James Shields gave up a home run on his second pitch of the game and later got pulled by Morris, who surprised the Rays starter when he walked out of the dugout after Shields had thrown 60 pitches in 3 1-3 innings.
Rajai Davis hit the early homer off Shields, who gave up another run in the second on a groundout.
``It was funny,' said Shields, who smiled as Morris, the entire infield and catcher Kelly Shoppach closed in on the mound.
``He walked out there and said: `What do we do now?' I was like, `You're supposed to get the ball from me,' Shields said. ``I handed him the ball and he said: 'So what are we doing after the game?' It was pretty fun out there.'
Justin Ruggiano singled with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning to win it for the Rays. Tampa Bay's Robinson Chirinos hit a tying triple with two outs in the ninth.
Morris and Maddon have become friends over the past couple of years.
The Rays manager, who played quarterback in high school and as a freshman in college, said some day he'd like to attend a Bucs practice and maybe run the scout team offense.
Morris said Maddon was welcome any time, jokingly adding that maybe the manager could sit on the shoulders of 6-foot-6 Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman to see over the defensive line.
``Every time I sit around this man, I pick up something - whether it's developing a concept or developing a belief,' Morris said, adding that he enjoys watching how the manager interacts with players and his staff.
Maddon said he benefits from the relationship, too.
``I enjoy bouncing things off of him. He's got a lot of great ideas,' the manager said. ``And when I'm around his entire coaching staff, you could get a sense of the way they work as a team. I really enjoy picking up on that also.'
The Associated Press News Service
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