Crawford out with sore left hamstring; Aybar at short
The Rays will be without two starters in tonight's matchup with the Indians.
LF Carl Crawford is out of Monday's lineup with a sore left hamstring, and he isn't sure if one day of rest will be enough to return. Eric Hinske will take his spot in left.
Manager Joe Maddon said he's not "heavily" concerned with the injury, but said Crawford felt more soreness after Sunday night's game.
Crawford has been one of the Rays hottest hitters as of late, with an eight-game hitting streak where he's gone 11-for-31 with two doubles, five triples and seven RBI. But Crawford said Monday that his hamstring has bothered him for a few days, and feels like it did in the first half of the season.
Also, with SS Jason Bartlett getting hit in his right index finger with a pitch Sunday, Willy Aybar will make his major-league debut at short - at least for today - allowing rookie third baseman Evan Longoria to stay in his usual spot. Bartlett said on Sunday that there was no fracture, but that he probably wouldn't be able to throw for a few days.
Maddon said Bartlett's finger feels significantly better than Sunday; they drilled into the nail to get the blood out, and they're still waiting on the swelling to subside. Bartlett wore a splint, and while Maddon said he'd probably bet that Bartlett won't play Tuesday, he wouldn't rule it out until re-evaluating him then.
Maddon said it's possible Bartlett could be available to pinch-run tonight.
Though Maddon said putting Aybar at short is definitely not an "optimal" situation, he wanted to leave Longoria alone, considering how much success he's had and how comfortable he's been in his rookie season.
Maddon acknowledged Aybar's lack of experience at shortstop - "it probably goes to his little league days," he quipped - but Aybar has worked out at that position for several days, and the Rays will try to prepare him as best they can.
"Our challenge tonight is to put him in the right spot before the pitch is thrown, get him as close to where the ball is going to be hit," Maddon said. "And roll from there."
Maddon said Sunday that he didn't anticipate Bartlett would need another disabled list stint, but the shortstop was supposed to get re-evaluated today.
As for Aybar, he has yet to play short in the major leagues; in his previous 152 games playing the field, he's split between second and third.
- JOE SMITH