Rays to platoon Hinske, Ruggiano in left
UPDATE, 8:50 Manager Joe Maddon said he plans to platoon Eric Hinske (against righthanders) and Justin Ruggiano (against lefties) in leftfield to replace Carl Crawford, and do the same, when possible, with Gabe Gross (against righthanders) and Rocco Baldelli (vs. lefties) in rightfield. Willy Aybar will get most of the playing time at third base to replace Evan Longoria, at least initially.
He also said SS Jason Bartlett's bruised right index finger continues to improve but still prevents him from throwing well enough to return to the field, and it likely would be Friday in Texas at the earliest.
Executive VP Andrew Friedman said it "seems reasonable" to think Longoria would return to the lineup by Sept. 1 and while not discussing specifics of the fracture in Longoria's right wrist, said: "It's not bad. It could be a lot worse. There's no ligament involvement. It's at a place where it's very reasonable to expect it to heal pretty quickly.''
The Rays will know more in two weeks when Longoria will be re-evaluated and x-rayed again. "I think it's very reasonable (for Sept. 1) as we're sitting here today but as everybody knows bones heal at different paces and it's too hard to say definitively at this point,'' Friedman said.
Justin Ruggiano wasn't just called up, he's going right into the starting lineup, batting sixth and playing leftfield, and the Rays go forward without LF Carl Crawford or 3B Evan Longoria, who are both on the DL.
The other lineup news is that Jason Bartlett (bruised right index finger) is still not ready to go back to shortstop, meaning he is the DH tonight (though hitting ninth) and Rocco Baldelli is back in rightfield. Ben Zobrist is at shortstop.
LHP Scott Kazmir takes the mound, confident a small adjustment to his stride will make a big difference in his performance.
Executive VP Andrew Friedman is here and expected to address the mediabefore the game with an update on Crawford, who was considering surgery on his right hand and likely to miss the rest of the season.
The full lineup: