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Behind the scenes glimpses from a classic Game 5 in the Fall Classic

Anthony Rizzo arranged for four different films from the Rocky franchise to be playing on the clubhouse TVs, and synched up the music as well.

Getty Images

Anthony Rizzo arranged for four different films from the Rocky franchise to be playing on the clubhouse TVs, and synched up the music as well.

The Fall Classic continues this week in Cleveland because of a classic Game 5 on Sunday night, in which the Cubs stayed alive by beating the Indians 3-2, showing the urgency of the situation by using closer Aroldis Chapman for a career-high eight-out save.

Here are some glimpses from behind the scenes from the World Series: …

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Video: Julianna Zobrist singing God Bless America at World Series

Ben and Julianna Zobrist are quite the dynamic duo, and they staged a double-bill performance on Saturday. Before Ben, the former Rays star, played in Game 4 of the World Series with his new Cubs team, Julianna sang God Bless America. Below is video of her stirring performance:

 

 

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Rays Kevin Kiermaier finishes second for Fielding Bible Award

Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier is one of three finalists among AL centerfielders to win the Gold Glove, long the gold standard among fielding awards. Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr. and Toronto's Kevin Pillar are the other two.

But Kiermaier finished second to Pillar for The Fielding Bible award, which is awarded based on voting of a 12-member panel of statistical analysts and media.

The voting, done on a 10-point scale was close, 109-106, which was a credit to Kiermaier since he missed two months with a broken hand.

Here is what the panel had to say, with the full results included the Bill James Handbook 2017, which is available from Acta Sports:

Kevin Pillar upstaged Kevin Kiermaier. It was not easy as Kiermaier set a record for the highest single season total of Defensive Runs Saved in 2015 with 42. But in 2016 Pillar continued his reign as King of the Web Gem and added in 21 runs saved to boot. Kiermaier did have 25 DRS for the Tampa Bay Rays, but when it came to making catches, Pillar saved 47 bases compared to 34 for Kiermaier. The Fielding Bible Award voters rewarded Pillar with his first award in a close vote, 109 points to 106 points for Kiermaier. …

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Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier an AL Gold Glove finalist

Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) gets under the fly ball by New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) in the first inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016.

Will Vragovic | Times

Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) gets under the fly ball by New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner (11) in the first inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016.

Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier lost about two months of playing time when he broke his left hand.

But that didn’t cost him a chance to win a second straight AL Gold Glove.

Kiermaier on Thursday was named a finalist, along with Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. and Toronto’s Kevin Pillar.

Rays 3B Evan Longoria seemed deserving, but was not named a finalist. Baltimore’s Manny Machado, Seattle’s Kyle Seager and Texas’ Adrian Beltre were.

Winners will be announced Nov. 8.

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Cubs in the World Series? Did that really happen?

Joe Maddon is greeted by his wife, Jaye, after the Cubs clinched their first World Series berth since 1945.

MARC TOPKIN | Times

Joe Maddon is greeted by his wife, Jaye, after the Cubs clinched their first World Series berth since 1945.

History will be a major theme when the World Series starts Tuesday in Cleveland.

The AL-winning Indians are seeking their first championship since 1948, a 67-year drought which seems rather significant - until you consider that the NL champ Cubs haven't won since 1908, tacking on another 40 years.

Heck the Indians at least have won a World Series since the Cubs were last in one, in 1945.

Which is part of the reason that made Saturday night so memorable at venerable Wrigley Field, at the corner of Clark and Addison streets.

 

It was loud, it was crazy, it was packed - and that was before the game.

With the Cubs taking an early lead, the suspense - and at least most of the trepidation - was gone, as the momentum built for the celebration.

And when the Cubs recorded the final out - at 9:45 local time - the party started., the stadium literally shaking. The fans roared in approval, they sang the "Go Cubs Go,'' they cheered wildly as the players celebrated on the field, when they gathered on the stage, when they came back out to share the moment with their families.

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Rays Odorizzi, Dickerson, Wills to appear at Buddy Baseball event

Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi and OF Corey Dickerson, plus radio broadcaster Dave Wills and mascot Raymond, will be on hand Saturday to mark the 100 Saturdays of Buddy Baseball event in Temple Terrace.
Buddy Baseball is a non-competitive recreational league for boys and girls ages 8-22 with special needs who are paired with a buddy to assist them on the field.
The program started in Oct. 2009 and has grown to include 88 players and 93 buddies from a five-county area. Saturday's event is at the Family Recreation Complex, 6700 Whiteway Drive.

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Rays Archer makes appearance in Uncle Grandpa animated series

Chris Archer in the upcoming Uncle Grandpa episode.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Chris Archer in the upcoming Uncle Grandpa episode.

Rays RHP Chris Archer joins other big-leaguers Jose Altuve, Adam Jones, David Price and Noah Syndergaard for an "appearance" in the World Series-themed episode of the Uncle Grandpa animated series on The Cartoon Network.

The episode will air Oct. 22, at 12:15 p.m., and should also be available through the network app. Here is a clip from the show:

 

 

 

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Rays' Chris Archer excited to do World Series analysis for ESPN

Chris Archer will provide analysis for ESPN as part of its pre- and post-game TV shows and during the game on radio.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Chris Archer will provide analysis for ESPN as part of its pre- and post-game TV shows and during the game on radio.

Chris Archer, obviously, rather would be pitching in the World Series.

Instead, the Rays righthander will be there providing analysis for ESPN as part of its pre- and post-game TV shows and during the game on radio.

"At the end of the day, it's fun to educate the fans from a current player's perspective,'' Archer told the Times. "They have great analysts, and I think me going on there - and the reception I got last year was for the most part 100 percent positive - I can educate them on what the pitcher is trying to do. It's definitely a different perspective.''

Archer received rave reviews for his TV work last postseason, and was interested in returning. The deal was finalized this week. …

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Rays part ways with longtime strength/conditioning coach Barr

The Rays have parted ways with longtime strength and conditioning coordinator Kevin Barr, whose contract was not renewed.

Barr had been with the Rays since the 2003 season, voted 2009 major-league strength and conditioning coach by his peers. He got word of the decision on Monday.

"It's been a great 14-year ride with some great people and I've enjoyed every minute of it,'' Barr texted Monday night.

Barr has been in baseball since 1994, working previously with the Marlins, Royals and Reds.

The Rays have not named a replacement.

Also, OF Jaff Decker and LHP Dana Eveland opted for free agency after being outrighted to Triple-A last week.

 

 

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Rays VP Bloom turns down interview for D-backs GM job

Rays baseball operations VP Chaim Bloom has turned down an opportunity to interview for the Diamondbacks' open GM job.

Bloom interviewed previously for openings with the Brewers, Phillies and Twins. He was reportedly a finalist for the Phillies job that went to Matt Klentak.

Instability in the Diamondbacks front office could be an issue as they seek to replace recently fired Dave Stewart. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopolous also reportedly declined an interview.

Bloom's decision was first reported by the Arizona Republic. He has declined to discuss job pursuits.

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A look at Rays potential arbitration issues

Kevin Kiermaier could be in line for a raise to around $3-million for 2017 rather than getting $550,000 or so.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Kevin Kiermaier could be in line for a raise to around $3-million for 2017 rather than getting $550,000 or so.

As detailed in Sunday's Times, the large number of arbitration eligible players the Rays may have, and the corresponding salaries they will get, compound the challenge they face this off-season in trying to improve the team without increase the payroll.

The mlbtraderumors.com site reported today the cutoff for Super 2 arbitration eligibility is expected to be within 2.127 and 2.131 days of service time, which if correct would mean that OF Kevin Kiermaier, 2.131, would qualify. If so, Kiermaier would be in line for a raise to around $3-million for 2017 rather than getting $550,000 or so, and would would make more over each of the next three seasons with that as his base as he now would have four years of eligibility rather than three. RHP Danny Farquhar also would be eligible, RHP Chase Whitley (2.125) could fall just short.

Mlbtraderumors.com also released its projected arbitration salaries for each of the eligible players, and there is model is usually pretty good, though in their list of Rays players they seem to be a little light on Kiermaier and RHP Brad Boxberger, and maybe on Alex Cobb, who made $4-million each of the last two seasons when not pitching due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.

Here are the mlbtraderumors.com projections, with service time shown, first-time eligibles in bold: …

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Rays Jake Odorizzi visits Poynter Institute Write Field program

Jake Odorizzi talking with members of the Write Field program.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Jake Odorizzi talking with members of the Write Field program.

Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi made a Saturday morning visit to the Poynter Institute in downtown St. Petersburg to speak with members of the Write Field program, which was designed five years ago "to improve the academic performance and life skills of selected middle school boys.''

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Rays start shuffling, drop Decker, Eveland, Marks, Querecuto

Jaff Decker hit .154 in 19 games for the Rays with one extra base and RBI.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Jaff Decker hit .154 in 19 games for the Rays with one extra base and RBI.

The Rays began the process of clearing space on their 40-man roster, dropping OF Jaff Decker, INF Juniel Querecuto and Ps Dana Eveland and Justin Marks.

All four were outrighted to Triple-A Durham after clearing waivers, having finished the season in the majors, and will have the opportunity to become free agents by the end of the World Series.

Decker, Eveland and Querecuto had gone home at the end of the minor-league season, then were called back due to injuries to join the Rays for the final weeks. Marks spent the season with the Bulls then was called up.

The moves drop the roster to 36, with free-agent RHP Kevin Jepsen and INF Alexei Ramirez also so come off. The Rays will need to reinstate SS Matt Duffy and OF Steven Souza Jr. from the 60-day DL, and add several young prospects to protect them from being taken in the Rule 5 draft. They also need to reinstate 1B Logan Morrison, who is a free agent anyway.

Decker hit .154 in 19 games for the Rays with one extra base and RBI.

Eveland had three stints with the Rays this season, posting an 0-1, 9.00 mark in 33 appearances, allowing 54 baserunners (32 hits, 19 walks, 3 HBPs) in 23 innings.

Marks went 7-11, 3.86 for Durham and, in his second career stint in the majors, allowed one earned run over nine innings in four games for the Rays.

Querecuto played in four games, getting one hit, a triple. …

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Ex-Rays vision of playoffs: The remix

With the Giants ousting the Mets (who had three former Rays in their starting lineup) on Wednesday, and the Blue Jays (who have four total) eliminating the Orioles, here is an update of our ex-Rays factor heading into the Division Series round of the playoffs. That starts today, with Blue Jays at Rangers and Red Sox at Indians:

1. Cubs
Players: RHP Jason Hammel, LHP Mike Montgomery, 2B Ben Zobrist
Staff: Manager Joe Maddon, pitching coach Chris Bosio, assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske, bench coach Dave Martinez
Baseline: Zobrist is by far most relevant player of the group, but so much about the Cubs stems from Maddon's personality and his way of doing things, which, with Martinez at his side, kind of makes them an updated and improved model of those Rays teams from back in the day when made the playoffs, like 2008-13. …

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Video report: Rays optimistic for improvement next season

Our video report from Tuesday's season wrap-up media conference, a Will Vragovic production:

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