- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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UNCASVILLE, CONN.--Don Zimmer had to interject for a moment.
At the beginning of the press conference for the Connecticut Sports Foundation Celebrity Dinner and Memorabilia Auction at Mohegan Sun on Friday, there were several Yankees-Red Sox questions. Then, Zimmer was asked about his take being in the rivalry.
The senior advisor for the Rays had to defend his team.
"I'm with the Tampa Bay Rays. I guess we have no chance," Zimmer said. "We'll give em all they can handle. We got a good pitching staff and we got a pretty good third baseman right here (Evan Longoria). We'll give them all they can handle. Believe me."
While a lot of the talk has revolved once again around the Yankees and Red Sox rivalry, especially with Bobby Valentine becoming the new Red Sox manager, Zimmer was giving a reminder not to sleep on the Rays. Tampa Bay won the Wild Card last season and won the division in 2010 and expects to have another strong team with a young and deep pitching staff.
"I think it's hard for people not to take a much harder look at us now after what we've done. We kind of look forward to being the underdog," Longoria said. "We were the doormat for so many years. It's fine if they don't give us a chance. We've come to expect that. It's actually much easier if you don't have to answer the questions the Yankees and the Red Sox have to answer every year. It's much easier to slip in the back door in late September and find ourselves in the playoffs again."
Just ask the Red Sox about that one.