From the happiest place: Johnson gone, Gross in

23

April

Update, 5:35 Official word from manager Joe Maddon is that Scott Kazmir came through his rehab assignment fine, throwing 64 pitches, though there was some apparent confusion/miscommunication with the Vero coaching staff on how much he was supposed to pitch. But his return to the Rays could be pushed back to May 4 so they can keep the rest of the rotation in some form of order.

Both Maddon and executive VP Andrew Friedman acknowledged the awkwardness of the Dan Johnson situation, but Friedman explained that "a lot of things changed" from when the Rays claimed Johnson and Tuesday night, specifically that Carlos Pena felt better and that Gabe Gross became available.

Friedman also said the Rays have received "encouraging news" on Cliff Floyd's recovery from right knee surgery, but it still sounds like it will be sometime in May before he returns.

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So much for the Dan Johnson era in Tampa Bay.

To make room for newly acquired OF Gabe Gross, the Rays have designated for assignment Johnson, a 1B/DH who had just joined them Tuesday after being claimed on waivers from Oakland.

Gross is en route to Florida and expected to join the Rays in time for tonight's game, but is not in the lineup (which is listed below).

With 1B Carlos Pena's sore right hamstring not a major issue (as he is back at first base tonight), the Rays' need for Johnson apparently diminished, and Gross, acquired from Milwaukee on Tuesday evening, fills a more important hole. Plus, another outfielder - either Nathan Haynes or Justin Ruggiano - seems likely to go when RHP Matt Garza is activated off the DL to start Friday.

Agent Bob Barad said the sequence of events was "unfortunate circumstances" for Johnson but he had no issues with the Rays' handling of the situation. "I certainly don't think in any way, shape or form they (claimed him) with the intent of this happening,'' Barad said. "These things happen.''

The Rays now have 10 days to release, trade or seek to pass Johnson through waivers."I think he could really help them,'' Barad said. "He's a good hitter. He just needs some at-bats.''

In other news, in an odd early morning game (10:30 start), LHP Scott Kazmir is already done with his rehab start for Class A Vero at Jupiter, having allowed seven hits (including two homers) in 4 2/3 innings, striking out four.

Kazmir gave up a homer to his first batter, Tyler Henley, and a two-run shot to his last batter, Steve Hill. Assuming all is well, Kazmir, completing his recovery from a Feb. 26 elbow strain, will make a final start Monday for Triple-A Durham and rejoin the Rays on May 3 in Boston.

As for today's lineup:
Iwamura, 2b
Crawford, lf
Upton, cf
Pena, 1b
Longoria, 3b
Hinske, rf
Gomes, dh
Navarro, c
Bartlett, ss

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:35am]

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