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Good news (finally)

Barring any unexpected setbacks - and the way this season is going that's not out of the question - the Rays are poised to get back two key starters during their upcoming roadtrip. 3B Aubrey Huff, out since April 11 with a left knee sprain, is scheduled to play two games for Class A Visalia then rejoin the Rays in Oakland on Friday. SS Julio Lugo, out since the third inning of the April 3 opener with an abdominal strain, will play in extended spring training games the rest of this week and is supposed to lead off every inning, then rejoin the team either in Oakland or Seattle.

Rocco Baldelli's progress is not as easy to define and the Rays are not sure when he will be back. Baldelli, out since late spring training with a left hamstring strain, has worked out some at first base, though manager Joe Maddon said the best scenario is for Baldelli to return to centerfield. 2B Jorge Cantu, out with a fractured left foot, is probably at least two weeks away from returning.

Maddon said he welcomes their return not only because they are frontline players, but because it will allow him to use a more regular lineup.

Sean Burroughs has earned more playing time at third with his solid defense, and is in the lineup again Tuesday. C Toby Hall also returns to the lineup.

Another small crowd is expected, but the Trop will be considerably more lively on Wednesday and Thursday when the Yankees make the first of three visits.

The Rays had more off-field trouble, with Class A minor-league pitcher Matt Rico suspended 100 games for a drug violation. No word, yet, on the official suspension for Delmon Young.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:30am]


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