Tampa Bay Rays
Rays notes: Shelton likely to be retained
ST. PETERSBURG - Executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon met Thursday to outline the Rays' game plan for the offseason. While every topic was open for discussion, neither seemed to indicate hitting coach Derek Shelton won't return for 2013. Shelton just finished the first year of a two-year contract, as did all the coaches. He was the lightning rod for criticism for the underachieving offense. The Rays finished 12th among 14 American League teams in batting, 13th in hits and 11th in runs scored and RBIs. Not having 3B Evan Longoria for 85 games hurt; the Rays were 47-27 with Longoria in the lineup, and two games under .500 while he was on the disabled list. Shelton was in charge of an offense that used three cleanup hitters who later were designated for assignment.But Maddon defended Shelton during the season, and Friedman, while not actually saying Shelton's job was safe, indicated Thursday he doesn't expect any changes on the coaching staff. The Rays hit .240, making them the second team since the 1972 Athletics to bat .240 or less and win 90 games. The other team is the 2012 A's, who hit .238 and won 94 games. The Rays led the major leagues with 571 walks. The last team to lead the majors in walks with an average no higher than .240 was the 1968 Red Sox, who hit .236 and walked 582 times. The Rays struck out 1,323 times, third-most in American League history behind this year's A's (1,387) and the 2007 Devil Rays (1,324). What about Zobrist? Ben Zobrist said he would be more than willing to remain at shortstop on a full-time basis in 2013, and Maddon said before Wednesday's game that he is open to the idea. What about Friedman? "No question that the way he played there makes it a real scenario for us to focus on and think through," Friedman said. More on Longo Longoria hit 17 home runs and drove in 55 runs in 74 games. That projects to 37 home runs and 120 RBIs over 162 games. After Wednesday's three-homer performance, he is 8-for-15 with six home runs, nine RBIs and seven runs scored in four career Game 162s. His six home runs are tied with Hall of Famer Stan Musial for the most homers on the regular season's final day. Longoria is one of four players to hit three home runs on the final day of the season. Former Rays player Dan Johnson, now with the White Sox, also did it Wednesday. The others are Gus Zernial of the 1950 White Sox and Dick Allen of the 1968 Phillies. What a finish The Rays finished the season on a 12-2 run but gained only three games in the wild-card standings. Since 1981, five teams finished the season with wins in 12 of their last 14 games — the 2012 Rays, 2011 Rangers, 2005 Angels, 2001 A's and 1995 Yankees. The Rays are the only one of the five not to reach the postseason. The Rays averaged six runs a game during that span and out-homered their opponents 28-6. The pitching staff had a 2.30 ERA. Noteworthy For the first time in five years, the Rays failed to lead the AL in steals. The Twins passed them Wednesday to finish with 135. The Rays had 134. … Rays pitchers struck out an AL-record 1,383 batters, the fourth-most in major-league history. Two of those teams, the Brewers (1,402) and the Phillies (1,402), did it this season. The major-league record is 1,404, by the 2003 Cubs. … The Rays finished with a plus-120 run differential, the third-most in the majors behind the Nationals (plus-137) and Yankees (plus-136). … With RHP Jeremy Hellickson earning his 10th win of the season Wednesday, the Rays became the first team with five 10-game winners since the 1988 Mets. … Had there always been a two-team wild-card format since 1995, this would have been the first time since 2005 that a 90-win team would not have advanced to the postseason.