ST. PETERSBURG -- Mariano Rivera crouched in front of his likeness in the rotunda area at Tropicana Field, grinning as he examined one of the most unusual and unique tributes the Yankees' closer has received during his retirement farewell tour.
Enter Sandman, indeed. The Rays unveiled a large sand sculpture depicting Rivera winding up for a pitch, his body and glove surrounded by the Manhattan skyline. The work of art will be on display for fans to see through this weekend's series.
That would be an interesting feat. The sculpture was produced by Meredith Corson and Dan Doubleday of Treasure Island, Fla.-based Standing Ovations, and it took approximately 2 1/2 days to complete.
Corson said that sand from local Florida beaches was trucked to Tropicana Field, and the sculpting was performed in the building, using photographs of Rivera as a guide.
"Obviously, it's not perfect, but you're just trying to get certain features," Corson said. "If you get the lips just right, or the nose right, then you get the idea of who it is.
"We wanted to do him smiling, because we hear he's a really great guy and he smiles a lot, but with the Sandman and [being] the closer, it didn't go along with smiling."
Rays president Matt Silverman also presented Rivera with a check for $3,150 for the pitcher's foundation, representing $50 for each of the 63 saves Rivera has recorded against the Rays during his career.
"He has done it the right way," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I came away as a huge fan after the All-Star Game in 2009. He is everything you think he is, and he's the best to ever play his position. The tributes are warranted, and I'm happy for the guy.
"He is the best. He's been doing it since he came into the league. I think he's the biggest reason they've dominated for so many years."
The Rays also had a special video tribute planned for Rivera before Friday's series opener.
"The ideas have been creative," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's been fun for us to watch. The cities have been good to Mo."
Rivera shared a moment with the sand sculptors before Friday's game, expressing his appreciation for their art.
"I just know he's a really great guy -- that's what everybody says," Corson said. "I mean, he has to be for a Yankee to be [honored] in this building; he has to be a really good guy. And we did get to meet him, and he seems like a really nice man."
Back fine after Scott takes first swings
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays designated hitter Luke Scott swung a bat on Friday for the first time since hitting the disabled list on Aug. 15 with back spasms.
Scott said that, barring any setbacks, he feels he will be ready on Aug. 30, the first day he is eligible to come off the DL.
"The back is doing much better," Scott said. "The spasms have calmed down. I've been resting. I've done some things in the pool to get blood circulating."
Tampa Bay has used Wil Myers and Kelly Johnson as its DH since Scott went down, but the club signed Delmon Young to a Minor League contract on Thursday. If Young is called up, he figures to see time as the DH against left-handed pitching.
Scott said that the signing of Young does not have him concerned about his own playing time.
"I know what I'm capable of, and so [does the front office]," Scott said. "They're big on matchups. This is about winning. It's not about an individual. We're in a special place to do a special thing. We have to earn a playoff spot and do whatever we can to make it happen."
Fans can also expect to see a clean-shaven Scott when he returns to the lineup, as his signature mutton chops recently met a razor. The rat tail hair style, remains, however.
Rays confident Delmon has matured
ST. PETERSBURG -- Manager Joe Maddon was Delmon Young's first Major League manager, and he's happy to have the veteran outfielder back with the Rays organization, even if the two had their differences of opinion the first time around.
The Rays inked Young to a Minor League contract on Thursday and sent him to Double-A Montgomery.
"I love the fact that Delmon is coming back," Maddon said. "We've had some good conversations over the last couple of years, primarily during Spring Training. I know he's not intimidated by moments. He knows how to drive in tough runs."
Young, who was selected by Tampa Bay with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, made headlines for the wrong reasons while playing for Triple-A Durham in 2006, when he flung a bat that hit an umpire.
"He was kind of young," Maddon said. "I had to do the things I had to do, and when you're that young, you also have to do things you have to do. I was a young male at one time, contrary to popular belief. I get all of that. I like the guy a lot. He's going to help bring us to the promised land."
Executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman also saw a more refined Young when he decided to pursue him.
"Twenty-two-year-old Delmon is very different from 27-year-old Delmon," Friedman said. "I've spent a good deal of time with him over the last few years. He has definitely matured. He really wanted to be a part of this organization again, and we think he'll fit in well."
Rays' newfound depth a 'good problem'
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays have made two acquisitions over the past two days, and with September's expanded rosters on the horizon, configuring the lineup card has suddenly become a more challenging task.
While manager Joe Maddon sees the difficulty in keeping everybody happy, he ultimately feels that depth can only help.
"It's going to be more difficult -- in a good way," Maddon said. "The difficult part is keeping everybody engaged. We have to be creative in resting people. I don't want anyone too tired. We've taken advantage of these off-days to keep everyone spiffy to this point, but we have to be careful moving forward. New players help that. It takes more than nine people to win a World Series."
David DeJesus found himself in left field on Friday, his first day with the Rays, while rookie Wil Myers hit the bench. DeJesus recorded his first hit with Tampa Bay in the bottom of the fourth, a one-out double.
"I have so much respect for all of these guys," Maddon said. "You don't want to turn the faucet off on someone and then all of a sudden need them, and he can't perform like he can. That's your fault for not keeping the guy engaged. It's a good problem to have. We have a lot of depth, and we have to figure out how to use it."
Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the moves were not made because of a lack of confidence in the roster that was already in place.
"It's not a message," Friedman said. "It's not anything other than about winning. That's the primary motivator in our thought process. We feel like we've made ourselves a better team."
Sam Strong is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.