Notes: Maddon on the levels

Notes: Maddon on the levels

ST. PETERSBURG -- Joe Maddon is a sage old baseball head, so naturally there are many theories about the game and the players who play it rattling around the Rays manager's head. One of his core philosophies deals with the five levels of a Major League baseball player.

"Phase I is, 'Happy to be here,' which we all begin with -- even coaches," said Maddon. "Phase II is 'I like this, I want to stay here,' and that's kind of a tough phase to be in, because you're trying to please people. Your daily approach just coming to the ballpark isn't necessarily one that's going to help the team because it's so self-centered, but it's just natural.

"Phase III you move beyond that and you say to yourself, 'I belong here, I can do this, I can play with these guys.' Phase IV is, 'I want to make as much dough as I possibly can.' The last stage is Phase V, 'I want to win.'"

Given the Rays' youth, there are a lot of players in the clubhouse who are Phase I and II guys and a marked absence of Phase IV and V players.

"Our intent is to get guys from Phase I to III as quickly as possible and from III to V as quickly as possible," he said.

But attaining Phase III might be the most important phase for a player to reach.

"The moment you feel you belong here, you can contribute at that point," Maddon said. "Your mind frees up. It becomes clear. You're not worried about impressing people. You bring yourself to the table. You say what you think. After that, the natural progression is, of course you want to make money and do what's best for your family, but you've really got to get to the point where you want to win, because that's what we do."

Maddon initially bounced his theory off of veteran Major League coach Marcel Lachemann, who Maddon called "old school," kind of a "Marlboro Man." Lachemann thought the progression had some merit, so the skipper has embraced his theory and refined it over the years. Maddon also believes the theory can apply to any profession.

Coming season for Dukes: Looking ahead to the season, outfield hopeful Elijah Dukes said he made strides last season as far as strikeouts to walks (he went from 83 strikeouts in 2005 to 47 last season), but said he needs to improve at staying on the field (he only played in 80 games in 2006).

"That's it," Dukes said. "Being able to stay on the field to help the team. Other than that, I work on my game on all aspects every year. I try to have the best numbers I can every year. So that's all I can say about myself. I always strive for the best."

Asked about goals for the season, Dukes said everybody wants to hit .300.

"You want to have Hall of Fame numbers each year," Dukes said. "I try to stay up in that high walks, low strikeouts. But other than that, everybody wants to have Hall of Fame numbers."

Teaching camp: The Rays' coaching staff is going to great lengths to instruct on the basics as well as a Rays' way of doing things. With a lot of words being delivered, there always is a concern that some of what is being said doesn't sink in. To that end, Maddon has tried to put the educational part of the day's program early in the day. Like tips on baserunning during Saturday's practice.

"We talk about emphasizing baserunning, that's why I wanted it to be first thing in the morning," Maddon said. "We could have done it at the end of the day, but by that time, you're hungry and you want to get inside. All your concentration starts splitting all over the place. I also believe that what you really want to emphasize you put at the beginning of practice."

This and that: Maddon complimented Carl Crawford for his help in instructing the base stealing. "He's been really good," said Maddon who nodded his head and smiled when asked if Crawford dropped an occasional "dog" on his listening audience. "The pre-dog stuff is pretty good." ... The Rays have signed outfielder Jonny Gomes, infielder Brendan Harris, infielder Elliot Johnson, right-hander Chad Orvella and catcher Shawn Riggans to one-year deals; 31 of the 40 rostered players are now under contract. ... The Rays' first intrasquad game will take place on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. ET and will be followed on Wednesday by a contest at 9:30 a.m. The Rays plan to use 14 pitchers in the first game and 12 in the second; the composition of those numbers is yet to be determined.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.