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Navarro suspended; Ekstrom optioned, Lobaton recalled

27

April

UPDATE, 5:54: Manager Joe Maddon said he considered the ban "probably just about average or right ... if it was more than two it definitely would have been unfair let me put it that way.'' Maddon said Jaso will start on Wednesday as well, against Oakland lefty Dallas Braden. He also said it was an unfortunate development for Ekstrom who Maddon thinks  "is going to be a very good member of our bullpen in the future.'' He did say Ekstrom would benefit from getting more regular work in Triple-A.

UPDATE, 4:08: Navarro said he had no issue with the suspension and actually thought he might have gotten worse. "I was stupid, I acted unprofessionally, that was the price I have to pay," Navarro said. "It was the heat of the moment, I kind of lost it. I've never been known for doing stuff like that. I just got caught up in the situation and unfortunately I got two games." Also, Navarro acknowledged that the timing is good since he doesn't want it hanging over his head during the season and the extra two days rest for his leg "won't hurt."

UPDATE, 2:47: To clarify the rules, Ekstrom can't be recalled for 10 days unless the Rays have a pitcher get hurt, so if there is another move on Thursday, it likely won't be Ekstrom being called back up.

DEVELOPING: Rays C Dioner Navarro has been suspended two games for his actions in Friday's game, forcing the Rays to shuffle their roster to have a second catcher in uniform tonight. Reliever Mike Ekstrom was optioned to Triple-A, and catcher Jose Lobaton recalled.

Navarro was suspended and fined an undisclosed amount "for his inappropriate conduct, including making contact with umpire Dan Bellino" during Friday's game. Navarro would have the right to appeal, with the suspension held in abeyance until a hearing, but given the roster moves is clearly planning to serve it now, which makes sense since he was sidelined the previous two games anyway, and questionable for tonight, due to soreness in his right leg. John Jaso is expected to start both games with Navarro out.

Lobaton, claimed on waivers last July 30 from San Diego, was the logical choice to be promoted (over Alvin Colina or Nevin Ashley) since he was already on the 40-man roster. Lobaton hit .250 in seven games at Double-A Montgomery this season and .400 in six after being promoted to Durham. Lobaton, 25, hit .176 in seven games with the Padres last season - six behind the plate, one (actually one inning) at second base.

The bullpen will be short a man with Ekstrom sent out, but is well rested with David Price's complete game on Sunday and Monday's off day. Ekstrom has been used primarily only in mop-up situations, with an 8.53 ERA in six games. When Navarro is reinstated, the Rays are expected to send Lobaton back and add another pitcher, with Joaquin Benoit, who has a 2.08 ERA in seven games, a possibility.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:15am]

    

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