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Tue, 21 Feb 2012 12:31 AM EST

That is, unless you are counting spring training, where Joe Maddon is enthusiastic to get to work after agreeing to a 3-year deal extension that could keep him in Tampa Bay’s dugout thru 2015. NFL spreads

The Rays formally announced the agreement with the 58-year-old chief during a meeting at Tropicana Field.

Maddon has led the team to the playoffs 3 of the past 4 seasons and feels they’ve got a glorious likelihood of getting back again this year. NFL lines

Maddon said while he’s flattered by supposition that he would have been enticing to other groups if the Rays hadn’t locked him up long-term he had no need to leave Tampa Bay, that has an accomplished young register capable of saying for championships for many years to come.

Maddon is 495-477 in 6 seasons with the Rays, who struggled thru ten years of futility prior to eventually posting the 1st winning report in franchise history in 2008, when they not only confounded the odds by finishing before the N.Y Yankees and Boston Red Sox for the American League East title but made their 1st World Series debut.

Tampa Bay won debatably baseball’s toughest division again in 2010, then triumphed over a 9-game deficit in September to edge Boston for the AL wild-card place on the final night of last season.

Maddon has excelled notwithstanding fielding a team whose payroll is among the lowest in baseball. A year back, the Rays lost 6 key players to free agency and traded 2 others, yet won 91 games to end 2nd in the AL East, which traditionally has been dominated by the big-spending NY Yankees and Red Sox.

“We have actually grown a lot over the last a few years,” said Maddon, who lost 101 games in 2006 – his 1st with Tampa Bay – and 96 the following season.

The Rays have averaged 92 wins the past 4 seasons. And with one of baseball’s youngest and deepest pitching rotations and what could possibly be an enhanced offensive attack led by Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton, Ben Zobrist, Carlos Pena and Luke Scott, Maddon said the club has everything it takes to return to the postseason.

“We’ve come up short the last 2 years in the playoffs, but we did get there,” Maddon expounded, alluding losses to Texas in the divisional round in 2010 and 2011.

“We’ve got to increase that a bit as we go on. It’s concerning winning. It is concerning getting to the last game of the season and winning it next time we get an opportunity to be there.”

Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman praised Maddon’s ability to connect with players, develop young talent and always “put the club first” in making calls.

“I think one of his best strengths is something that isn’t talked about virtually enough,” Friedman said. “All Joe does is under the idea  to make this franchise better in both the near term and the long run.

Maddon was entering the final season of a 3-year extension he signed in May 2009. Prior to his arrival after spending more than 30 years in the Angels organization, the Rays went 518-775 under the team’s 3 prior managers.

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