MIAMI -- Members of the Rays and their significant others will again walk the fashion runway to help make dreams come true for children with life-threatening illnesses.
The seventh annual "Rays on the Runway" event benefiting the Children's Dream Fund will take place at the St. Petersburg Marriott (12600 Roosevelt Blvd.) on Thursday. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and a meet-and-greet with the players and their wives. The fashion show will follow featuring fashions by Saks Fifth Avenue.
Scheduled to appear at this time are: Sara and Burke Badenhop, Katelyn and Wade Davis, Sarah and Sam Fuld, Natalie Cresta and Jeremy Hellickson, Heather and J.P. Howell, Nicole and Elliot Johnson, Matt Joyce, Nina Dominguez and Jose Lobaton, Anna Orlando and Matt Moore, Pamela and Carlos Peña, Melanie McCauley and Cesar Ramos, Will Rhymes, Giselle and Sean Rodriguez, Luke Scott, Allison and Derek Shelton, Ryane and James Shields, Stefanie Bernett and B.J. Upton, and Julianna and Ben Zobrist.
Also appearing on the runway will be "Dream Children" -- children who have received a dream from the Children's Dream Fund.
Tickets to the event can be purchased in advance or at the door. To pre-purchase tickets or for sponsorship information, call (727) 896-6390 or online at childrensdreamfund.org. Tickets are $125 per person and $75 per student.
Maddon says advanced metrics hurting hitters
MIAMI -- Joe Maddon believes that offensive numbers in the Major Leagues are dwindling, and for good reason.
Teams now put shifts on players based on hitting tendencies, the pitchers study videotape to exploit any given hitter's weaknesses, and the outfielders and infielders are as athletic as ever.
"All the stuff that's going on and all this stuff that's talked about, whether it's data, matrixes, all the different stuff that's out there is all slanted toward the pitching and the pitching and the defense," the Rays manager said. "There's no way to slant it toward the hitters. I really think that all the stuff you see out there can only confuse hitters. There's nothing really there definite that the hitter can latch on to when he goes into the box that's really going to help him against [any given pitcher]. He might find a tendency or two, but you just never know if it's going to pop up or not."
Maddon said that is not the case with the pitchers.
"A pitcher pretty much knows a tendency of a hitter that holds true," Maddon said. "And the defense pretty much knows a tendency that's going to hold true. All this stuff, all this new stuff that everybody is utilizing definitely weighs more heavily in favor of the pitching and defense. The hitter's not really picking up any really good nuggets compared to what the pitching and defense is."
Thus, based on those truths about the games, Maddon believes offensive numbers have no place to go but down.
"They should," Maddon said. "I don't know what's going to happen on the horizon to help the hitter under these circumstances. ... As it moves forward, I don't know exactly what it is. It's something I've been thinking about a bit."
Joyce reflects on All-Star at-bat vs. old friend
MIAMI -- The All-Star Game is just around the corner and Matt Joyce, who was one of three Rays All-Stars in 2011, shared a memory from his experience.
"I think the thing that I thought was the funniest, quirkiest, most memorable thing for me was my first at-bat I ended up facing Jair Jurrjens," Joyce said. "And me and Jurrjens actually lived together in Double-A. So we played together coming up through the Minors and we knew each other pretty well from living together in Double-A. It was a weird coincidence to be able to face one of your old roommates and one of your really, good old friends in the All-Star Game. I had to do everything I could to not smile and laugh and wink at him and stuff. I ended up grounding out but it was fun.
"The odds [of that occurrence were] crazy. I never would have thought in Double-A that would be a scenario that was even possible."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.