TAMPA, Fla. - Joe Maddon saw the Yankees reload this offseason with several high-profile signings.
One, however, stood out.
"McCann, it starts right there for me,'' the Rays' manager said of catcher Brian McCann. "What he brings, not just the hitting and potential home runs to rightfield, what he does toughness-wise and what he does preparation-wise and where the pitchers fall in love with that kind of stuff and then they pitch better. To me, that's probably the most important acquisition, from my perspective.''
That's not to say he downplayed other acquisitions such as centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, rightfielder Carlos Beltran and Japanese righthander Masahiro Tanaka.
Speaking specifically of Ellsbury combining with Brett Gardner, who will start in left, Maddon compared that tandem with a Red Sox combo that drove him crazy last season.
"Ellsbury and Gardner together could be a lot like Ellsbury and [Shane] Victorino were last year in Boston,'' Maddon said. "That part worries me a little bit because [once] that starts rolling, that's hard to stop.''
Ryan not concerned
Brendan Ryan said the lower-back discomfort that will sideline him until the middle of the week shouldn't even be categorized as such.
"I'd say we're being cautious, to say the least,'' he said. "Really, it's quite a small deal. I felt a little spot when I was rotating [taking swings] and that was it. Could have happened from sleeping poorly.''
Tests on the affected area came back negative. Ryan expects to be back in the lineup Wednesday, though Joe Girardi said it could be a day or two after that.
Locals looking good
Two local products bidding for bullpen roles, Danny Burawa (Rocky Point) and Matt Daley (Garden City) pitched Sunday and again did well. Burawa allowed an unearned run in the eighth and Daley struck out two in a perfect ninth. Burawa has allowed one run in four outings and Daley has not allowed a run in three appearances.