Baldelli off roster, Aybar in; Pena benched today, Jennings in RF
UPDATE, 2:12: Rangers lineup:
UPDATE, 1:20: Baldelli was obviously disappointed, and said he hasn't made a decision yet on his future. He said he started cramping up during Wednesday's game, and he felt it during his last at-bat: "At that point I knew I was probably not in good shape.''
He said he knew he had to do what was best for the team at that point: "I mean, I have to look at myself and be honest and say that, like I said, I'm not the best guy for the job right now.''
The problem was something of a surprise since he hadn't hadn't any issues since his Sept. 1 return, playing in 10 games.
Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said they made the final decision to make the roster move after Baldelli came in early to work out today and didn't feel any better. Though Baldelli would be eligible to return if the Rays made it to the World Series, Friedman said it "would be hard to imagine" putting Baldelli back on the roster.
The development was disappointing to the Rays because they planned for Baldelli to be the DH against Texas' lefthanded starters, but also in the bigger picture sense because of how fond team officials are of Baldelli. "Rocco is as much a part of the Rays family as any player that's ever worn this uniform,'' Friedman said. "He's as selfless of an athlete as they come. His dedication to the game on and off the field has made a tremendous impact on all of us.''
DEVELOPING: Rocco Baldelli has been taken off the Rays division series roster for medical reasons and replaced by Willy Aybar, who will start at DH today.
Baldelli felt cramping after Wednesday's game as a result of his illness that causes muscle fatigue, and again Thursday morning when he tried to hit. "It's the same thing that's bothered him to this point,'' manager Joe Maddon said."We spoke at the end of the game (Wednesday) and he was very distraught.'' Technically, the Rays are calling it left leg fatigue symptomatic of his mitochondrial disorder.
Under MLB rules, Baldelli can be replaced on the roster but has to sit out the next series if the Rays advance. Maddon said though Baldelli wasn't feeling well, he did not require medical attention.
Also, 1B Carlos Pena is out of the lineup against tought Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson, with switch-hitting Ben Zobrist at first base and right-handed rookie Desmond Jennings in rightfield. Maddon said that was the plan from the start of the series, and not a reaction to Wednesday's game. Wilson has held lefty hitters to a .144 average and has not allowed a home run; he has allowed a .236 question and 10 homers to righthanders.
Maddon said Jennings "seems to be fine" and the 23-year-old shouldn't be fazed by the spotlight. However Maddon admitted he would have preferred to play Jennings more after his Sept. 1 promotion from Triple-A - he has made only five starts (two in rightfield, two in left and one in center). "The opportunity wasn't there based on the other teams' pitching,'' Maddon said. "We've been keeping him ready in regards to his defensive work, his hitting, etc. So I feel really good that he's going to go out there and play well today.''
Minor-league C Nevin Ashley joined the team and will start working out with bullpen coach Bobby Ramos to be prepared should the Rays need another catcher. Ashley was summoned when Dioner Navarro decided to go home rather than stay with the team after being left off the roster.
Asked if he was disappointed in Navarro’s decision, Maddon said: “I’m surprised, and I’ll leave it at that.’’
The Rays lineup: