MIAMI -- When Ozzie Guillen held court prior to Friday night's game, the Marlins manager spoke about some subjects of interest to Tampa Bay fans. For instance, Rays manager Joe Maddon.
When asked where he ranked Maddon among managers, Guillen didn't hold back in his praise.
"You don't win Manager of the Year two years just because you're cute," Guillen said. "He's not cute. He's good. He's got the ballclub to do it and his players believe in him and he believes in his players. If I had to rank him, there's a lot of great managers out there, but this man does a lot of great things for his ballclub and especially for his city. It seems like every time he does something, it works for him."
A question regarding whether the Rays and Marlins have a growing rivalry prompted Guillen to talk about the Rays' ballpark situation.
"Build a ballpark for them, please," Guillen said. "Why not? They're playing well, they've got a great organization now. They deserve that. They've earned it. It's fun to watch those guys play, man. It's fun. They play the game good, they play the game right, they play the game hard. They're playing in a very tough division and they kick everybody's butt. I don't see why they don't build this ballpark. They should."
Guillen offered a little self-deprecating humor when the former Tampa Bay shortstop was asked if he could believe what happened with the Rays in 2008 when they had never come close to having a winning season.
"That's why, because they had me on the roster," Guillen said. "Seriously. Baseball is not about names. Baseball is not about how much money you make. Baseball is about how good you play. For the last three or four years, they've been playing great baseball, little by little, inning by inning.
"Safety squeeze in the first inning in the American League? OK. It's 1-0. Now all of a sudden, you look and it's 2-1 in the eighth. And they squeezed in the first inning. Not too many managers do that. But he believed in his pitching staff, he believed in his players. They play pretty solid baseball, day after day."
Rays get acclimated to Marlins Park
MIAMI -- On Friday night, Marlins Park became the 39th park the Rays have played in -- 36 road parks and three home parks: Tropicana Field, The Ballpark at Disney's Wide World of Sports (2007-08) and the Tokyo Dome (2004).
At first glance, the Rays like the looks of the new venue, complete with its lime green interior.
"It's kind of cool," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I like the art. I like the Dodge Challenger green wall out there. I like that a lot. Circa 1970, Challenger RT, 440 six pack."
And the sculpture in center field...
- 142 wins
- 110 wins
"A bit awkward, but somebody liked it," Maddon said.
A reporter asked Maddon if he knew how much the sculpture cost, and the Rays manager chuckled: "Way too much, I'm sure."
Ben Zobrist said he loves new stadiums.
"Looks like there's not a bad seat in the house," Zobrist said. "I actually like the green, too."
Zobrist said that the first time playing at a new stadium is always an adventure while trying to figure out how the park will play.
"The infield looks a little bit hard just looking at it, but I'll have to see how it plays when we get out there on it," Zobrist said.
Matt Joyce said the park reminded him of Milwaukee's Miller Park, where the Rays played a series last season.
"The feel, the retractable roof, how it's open [beyond the left-field wall]," Joyce said. "As far as hitting-wise, hopefully you can see the ball well. I haven't taken BP yet. The grass is kind of iffy. But it's obviously a beautiful stadium."
However, Joyce wasn't a fan of the depth of center field, 418 feet, and the power alley in right-center, 392 feet.
"That's huge," Joyce said. "That's crazy. I don't know why they'd ever do that. If you're going to build a ballpark, you're going to want to build a ballpark that players can hit home runs and you draw fans that way. To make center field and those gaps over there so big so you don't see home runs takes away a little bit."
Shields sad to hear about I'll Have Another
MIAMI -- Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another was scratched from the Belmont on Friday because of a swollen tendon in his left leg. He will now retire and be put out to stud.
The news that the colt's chances to become the first horse in 34 years to win the Triple Crown -- since Affirmed in 1978 -- had been derailed was met with some sadness in the Rays' clubhouse.
James Shields' uncle, Jim Jimenez, is the farrier (provides hoof and foot care) for I'll Have Another. On Thursday morning, Jimenez hosted a contingent of Rays personnel at Belmont, and they actually got to see the horse up close.
Shields called the news "a shame."
"We had some of the [Rays'] trainers go over there," Shields said. "I was hoping they could fix him up. It's really sad to be honest with you. He's a great horse. I kind of feel bad for my uncle. It was a good time for him up in New York. I think they did the right thing and shut him down. You never want to hurt a horse that way."
The Rays signed three of their selections from this week's First-Year Player Draft on Thursday: Marty Gantt, an outfielder from College of Charleston selected in the seventh round; Sean Bierman, (left-handed pitcher, University of Tampa, 10th); and Michael Williams (center fielder, University of Kentucky, 30th). All three will report to short-season Hudson Valley to prepare for the start of the NY-Penn League season.
Outfielder Brandon Allen cleared waivers, so he will remain with the Rays' organization and report to Triple-A Durham.
"For our sake, I'm glad Brandon cleared and we got him back," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I have a lot of respect for him, and I still think he's going to be very helpful for us down the road."
Kyle Farnsworth (right elbow strain) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment at Class A Charlotte on Monday.
"Kyle, just to get him back out there, get him on the mound, in a rehab assignment, it's good," said Maddon, who noted that the Rays will be taking a cautious approach to his return to the team.
Evan Longoria (partial-torn left hamstring) will run for team trainers on Saturday. Maddon noted that how he fares during that exercise "will tell them a lot" about when he will begin his rehab.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.