Joe Maddon, manager of the dollar-poor Rays, loves to tweak the Yankees. So he didn't resist Thursday when asked about the state of his wealthy, banged-up AL East cousins.
"I'm slightly amused by all of that," Maddon said Thursday night before the Rays clubbed the Yankees, 8-3, in the opener of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium. "Derek's not out there, obviously. Maybe Teixeira's hurt right now and A-Rod, etc. But these other names are really good names. So I have no sympathy for that whatsoever, actually."
Maddon forgot Curtis Granderson, who is also on the disabled list along with Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Those four players will make nearly $84 million this season. Tampa Bay's Opening Day payroll was $59 million.
Each lineup Thursday night had one bonafide star: Robinson Cano for the Yankees and Evan Longoria for the Rays. Cano had a sacrifice fly. Longoria did, too, but he also hit two solo home runs as the Rays brushed aside Andy Pettitte and the Yankees' bullpen.
Maddon surely didn't feel sorry the Yankees had to start lefties Travis Hafner, Ichiro Suzuki and Lyle Overbay against lefthander Matt Moore. The guy in the basement apartment -- former Yankees backup catcher Jose Molina was the Rays' DH -- doesn't want to hear about the problems of the guy in the penthouse.
"Everybody keeps talking about the [Yankees'] new faces," Maddon said. "They're pretty good faces. They're not the typical faces here, but Hafner's been really good for many years, Suzuki's been very good for many years, Overbay's had a nice career. There's still some very significant people out there."
Left unsaid was that the Yankees had to start those guys -- plus Vernon Wells, Jayson Nix, Chris Stewart and Reid Brignac -- because they don't have one thing the Rays do: A major-league ready prospect to help the underwhelming batting order while pumping up the fan base.
One day after Dodgers' rookie Yasiel Puig made Yankee Stadium his personal playground with a rarely-seen display of aggressiveness and athleticism, Tampa Bay's Wil Myers started his fourth major-league game.
Myers, 22, whom Tampa Bay acquired from Kansas City in a deal for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis, lined a single to center in his first at-bat that sent Pettitte ducking for cover.
Myers went 1-for-5. He's 3-for-17 (.177). The Rays didn't need him Thursday night.
The Yankees have outfield prospects in Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin and Mason Williams, but none are expected to help this year. Their outfield call-ups have been Thomas Neal and Zoilo Almonte, neither of whom could crack Thursday night's lineup. Almonte did get his first big-league hit with a single batting for Wells leading off the ninth.
Myers is projected to be a star. Just as the Mets did with Zack Wheeler, the Rays delayed his initial appearance in the bigs to save a year of arbitration eligibility. Myers made his debut on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Unlike the Mets, Tampa Bay's move might cost it a playoff spot if the righthanded hitter could have helped earlier; the fourth-place Rays are 11/2 games behind the third-place Yankees in the East.
Myers had his own small rooting section behind the visitors' dugout. They held up a sign that read "Wilville."
No one behind the Yankees' dugout had a sign reading "Nealville" or "Zoilotown."
"It's been very impressive how he's handled the whole thing," Maddon said of Myers. "He's a good kid."
The Yankees have a bunch of good kids, too, but none that get the heart racing. It's one thing Maddon could feel sympathetic about.
Bet he doesn't.