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Rays overcoming bump in the road


Rays overcoming bump in the road
Trips to the West Coast no longer seem daunting.

By MARC LANCASTER

mlancaster@tampatrib.com

SEATTLE - Throughout Tampa Bay's first decade of Baseball existence, not many tasks proved more difficult than winning far from home.

Despite sharing a division with the Red Sox and Yankees, the franchise's deepest struggles on the road almost always were reserved for trips to the opposite coast. Entering 2008, Tampa Bay owned a 59-130 record when visiting American League West ballparks, lowlighted by a 10-35 mark in Oakland.

In a season in which nearly every layer of the organization's losing legacy peeled away, though, the Rays found a solution to those problems. They won three of four in their lone 2008 trip to Seattle's Safeco Field and took two of three from the A's in both of their visits to Oakland.

"We started believing that we can win on the road," Manager Joe Maddon said.

The first element in what caused that turnaround is obvious - the Rays were a better team last year.

But there might have been something else to it as well. Whereas previous teams might have used an inconvenient travel schedule as an excuse to let down for a few days, a group that suddenly had something to play for found a way to keep the pedal down even when it was a bit groggy.

"It's not as daunting, I guess, not as uncomfortable as maybe it had been," Maddon said. "With young players, it normally is uncomfortable in the beginning, and as you see the same ballpark over and over again, there's a different feeling about it."

Despite their advances on the road last season, the Rays were a far better team at Tropicana Field last season. After finishing their first homestand of 2009 with a losing record, though, perhaps a long West Coast trip will do them some good.

"We haven't played too well at home so far," said B.J. Upton, "so hopefully we can pick it up on the road."

Reporter Marc Lancaster can be reached at (813) 259-7227.

Copyright ? 2009, The Tampa Tribune and may not be republished without permission. E-mail library@tampatrib.com


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 23, 2009

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