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News » Tampa Bay Rays Notes, Quotes 2009-03-25

Tampa Bay Rays Notes, Quotes 2009-03-25

Tampa Bay Rays Notes, Quotes 2009-03-25
--CF B.J. Upton probably will miss the start of the regular season after being hit in the left hand by a pitch March 21. While X-rays showed only swelling, the Rays will not hurry Upton back. "It's not a huge issue for me," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I want him to be healthy and well and ready, and I want him to have the kind of year he's capable of because he's healthy. I would want to do nothing to jeopardize the latter part of the season by being a little bit too quick now."

Upton had been slowed this spring as he recovered from left shoulder surgery.

--OF Matt Joyce made his Grapefruit League debut on March 22. He had been sidelined with a sore right leg.

--OF Fernando Perez will be out longer than expected due to a dislocated left wrist. Initial estimates had him returning in three months (June), but a new diagnosis indicated that four or five months (July or August) might be more realistic.

--3B Evan Longoria was thrilled by the opportunity to join Team USA for the final round of the World Baseball Classic. "I'm excited," Longoria said. "Just get over there and try to win the thing, that's the goal. I don't want to go over there and hang out, I want to go over there and win." Longoria was added as a replacement for injured Chipper Jones and might get some playing time at third base with David Wright hobbled by a cracked nail on his left big toe. Longoria, who played for Team USA in the 2007 World Cup, had been hoping for the call. "It's awesome," he said. "Anytime you get to put on the USA colors and play for your country, it's an honor."

--The battle for the fifth spot in the Rays rotation appears to be down to two candidates -- RHPs Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann, with a decision expected by the end of this week. The Rays thinned the field by sending LHP Carlos Hernandez and RHP Mitch Talbot to the minors and are expected to have LHP David Price join them.

--RHP Eduardo Morlan was returned to the Rays by the Brewers, who took him in the Rule 5 draft but realized he wasn't ready for the big leagues. Morlan, the third player acquired in the November 2007 trade that landed SS Jason Bartlett and RHP Matt Garza, will report to minor league camp. "We're excited to get Eddie back -- we feel like he has the ability to be an above-average major league reliever," said Andrew Friedman, the Rays' executive vice president.

--RHP Troy Percival looks as if he knew what he was talking about. When Percival reported to camp, coming off an injury-shortened season and December back surgery, the veteran reliever said there was no doubt in his mind he would be ready to resume closer duties by the start of the season. And the way he has looked through his first three exhibition appearances, all 1-2-3 innings, the Rays are starting to believe him. "As of right now he's showing that he can or could be," manager Joe Maddon said. "He really has been sharp. ... Right now he is, for me, ahead of where I thought he'd be at this particular juncture."

--After the first real down season of his career, LF Carl Crawford is determined to regain his groove. "Physically I was beat up, but it was tough on me mentally, too," Crawford said. "Just knowing people are looking at you saying, 'What's wrong with him?' Giving you that look that you don't like because you know what they're thinking. It was definitely a humbling experience. Baseball is humbling enough without having to play hurt. So now I don't take anything for granted. Nothing is guaranteed. I definitely look at everything a whole lot different now."

BY THE NUMBERS: .393 -- Team-high on-base percentage last season by B.J. Upton, who compensated for his lack of power -- caused by a left shoulder injury -- by practicing greater patience.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "This moment is exactly as it should be. We get what we get when we get it. We are where we are for a reason." -- Rays OF Gabe Kapler, explaining his philosophy of life.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: March 25, 2009

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