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Heavy hitters ...



Until he gets all the pieces of his lineup in order, manager Joe Maddon is going to piece things together the best he can. Saturday, that meant going back to what worked for the Rays so well last year at the top of the order, with Julio Lugo leading off, Carl Crawford second and Jorge Cantu third, and going with something totally different after them. Maddon sat down slumping Jonny Gomes and struggling Aubrey Huff, and the players he put in the lineup, such as Russell Branyan and Greg Norton, delivered as the Rays matched a season-high with 14 hits. Huff and Gomes are expected to be back in the lineup Sunday.

Maddon said he is only committed to the top three in the order, but it seems obvious he would like to return Huff to the cleanup spot, then follow him with some combination of righthanders Ty Wigginton, Jonny Gomes and Rocco Baldelli. That would leave Toby Hall hitting eighth and, depending on the configuration of the lineup that day, either Travis Lee or Damon Hollins ninth.

Talk about human growth hormone and steroid investigations continue to be a popular topic in the clubhouse.

Baldelli has looked great since returning Wednesday, taking good swings at the plate and looking like he hasn't missed any time in the field. He did two small things in Friday's game that answered a lot of questions about his status - he beat out a ground ball to shortstop for an infield hit, and he went deep into the rightcenterfield gap and made a sliding stop of a ball on a play that should have saved a run had the relay been better.

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


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