ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays and Red Sox joined the rest of Major League Baseball by paying tribute to those who lost their lives during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks prior to Wednesday night's game.
Along with the umpiring crew, both teams wore hats with an American flag embroidered on the side. The "We Shall Not Forget" MLB silhouetted batter ribbon was displayed at Tropicana Field, where "9.11.01" was engraved in the back of the pitcher's mound, and a moment of silence was held prior to first pitch. Also, a caravan containing a fire truck, police car and ambulance paraded around the ballpark.
Andrew Harriman, representing the Wounded Warrior Project, threw out the first pitch.
Harriman, who hails from Largo, Fla., worked as an emergency medical technician before joining the Army and entering Iraq in 2006, where he was shot multiple times in the left leg. He has since returned to complete paramedic school and plans on enrolling in medical school.
As he is every year, manager Joe Maddon was reminded of his college fraternity brother, Neil Levin, the head of the New York Port Authority who was killed in the attacks.
"I'm thinking, 'Neil is pretty cool. He's the boss. He's going to show up late,'" Maddon said. "As it turns out, he was having breakfast that morning in the restaurant on the top floor, so we lost Neil on that particular day. Everyone has a connection to it. That's mine.
"I had talked to him in the middle of August for the first time in about 25 years. We reconnected. He was remarried. He had stepkids. We talked about him coming to see us against the Yankees and it never happened. Whenever I hear 9/11, riding my bike today with the flag at half mast, I thought of Neil."
Maddon gives Jennings pep talk about his play
ST. PETERSBURG -- Manager Joe Maddon had a pregame conversation with Desmond Jennings on Wednesday to talk about the center fielder's defense in Tuesday's 2-0 loss to the Red Sox.
Mike Napoli led off the fifth inning Tuesday night with a drive off David Price, who had retired the first 12 batters he faced, to the center-field wall. Jennings could not make the catch and Napoli ended the perfect game bid with a double.
Jennings had experienced two dropped balls in the outfield over the past couple of weeks prior to Tuesday night's game, and Napoli's ball was a play that he normally makes.
A dejected Jennings, who is a Gold Glove-type center fielder, told reporters after the game: "I don't know what it is actually. It's a bad time to be playing bad."
Maddon said he had a "nice conversation with Desmond, who is pretty much in the listening mode all the time" and "listens well," noting that he just brought a couple of things to Jennings' attention.
"One, that he's really, really good," Maddon said. "Number two, that he's going to be a great player in this league. And don't ever worry about making mistakes here, don't ever. I'm never worried about anybody making a mistake here."
Maddon stressed to Jennings that he could "impact this game here for us, possibly like nobody else in our locker room can" based on his abilities.
"Just a reaffirmation of what you're all about and understand that we all get our confidence dinged once in a while, we all do," Maddon said. "Sometimes you just need somebody to remind you of what you're good at and how you absolutely are. So hopefully that will help a little bit, because I do believe in him a lot."