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Rested Rays are ready for debut

Tampa Bay plays its first playoff game ever against an overworked White Sox team.

October 02, 2008|From the Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays rested while the Chicago White Sox worked overtime to secure a playoff berth. No one can be sure what that will mean when their AL division series begins today at Tropicana Field.

"I don't think there's any advantage to the way they got here," Rays Manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday. "I think they are who they are. They are a bunch of veterans. They are going to approach the day pretty much the same way. I don't see them riding emotional waves."

The White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins, 1-0, in a tiebreaker that decided the AL Central championship on Tuesday night. They also won potential elimination games on Sunday and Monday to remain on course to give the Windy City two teams in the postseason for the first time since 1906.

"I don't want them to be happy just to be here," White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen said. "If we don't make it to the next round, I'll be disappointed the same way if we didn't make [the playoffs]. I'm not the type of guy, 'Oh, we made it here, everybody rah-rah, good job, great job.' . . . You have to go to the World Series to get the thing done for the year."

Javier Vazquez (12-16) will start Game 1 for Chicago. James Shields (14-8) will throw the first pitch in Tampa Bay postseason history.

The teams bring different styles to the best-of-five series.

The Rays like to use their youth and speed to their advantage, especially on the artificial turf at home, and the White Sox led the majors in home runs.

"They don't try to manufacture things. Almost 50% of their runs came via the home run, so you have to keep that in the back of your mind," Maddon said. "They occasionally will do something on the bases, but primarily they like to hit the ball out of the ball park."

Maddon doesn't expect Chicago's approach to change now. And, his team certainly has no intentions of switching gears.

"I want to play our game, the way we've been doing it all year, taking the same kinds of risks and providing the same kind of pressure to the other team. Period. Nothing new," Maddon said.

Maddon made it official that left fielder Carl Crawford will return for Game 1 after being out seven weeks because of a finger injury.

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