Rays vs. Orioles, with no Zobrist
Update 3:55 p.m. Ben Zobrist said he just needs a day off anyways, but his neck has nagged him for a few days. Manager Joe Maddon said there's a chance Zobrist could also be out tommorrow, but he isn't overly concerned about the "annoying" neck issue. Zobrist said he'd be available to pinch-hit.
"It's nagged for a few days, so we just talked about it and felt like it'd be good to take a day and just rest it," Zobrist said.
Zobrist had a full afternoon, hosting a special guest, 12-year-old Parker Lentini, whose wish from Make-A-Wish Foundation was to meet his favorite player. The two had lunch and played catch, with Zobrist giving him pointers.
"He said I can be a pitcher cause I can throw, but I can't catch," Lentini joked.
Lentini said he's been a fan of Zobrist since his early years with the Devil Rays, always believing that he could bounce back from his struggles and stints in the minors. Zobrist was "honored" to be part of Lentini's wish. "I've never had anybody want to do that with me as a player," Zobrist said. "We just had a blast."
So did Lentini, whom manager Joe Maddon asked to field questions during his pre-game media news conference. For the record, Lentini is against the six-man rotation, doesn't think the Rays lineup should change so much, and, yes, believes the Rays can catch the Yankees.
"Best day ever," he said.
*With Bucs legend Lee Roy Selmon still in the hospital, manager Joe Maddon fondly remembered when he invited the Hall of Famer to visit the team at Tropicana Field during the 2008 season. Selmon gave a soft-spoken speech in the clubhouse. "The message was delivered in a very calm (way), soft spoken, but had a lot of clout to it," Maddon said.
"Outstanding, what a great guy," Maddon said. "We all pretty much pale in comparision....He's a gentleman, he's soft spoken, gentle, kind, you can't even imagine him being this violent football player. Wonderful man."
Developing: The Rays, coming off a disappointing 3-2 loss to last-place Baltimore Friday night, will try to bounce back tonight with RHP Wade Davis on the mound.
Tampa Bay will be without one of its top hitters as 2B/RF Ben Zobrist is not in the lineup, one day after he was pinch-hit for in the ninth inning due to stiffness in his neck. Zobrist had said after the game he didn't consider the injury serious, and felt it wouldn't keep him out of the lineup. But manager Joe Maddon wanted to see how he felt today.
Davis is winless in his last five starts, but the Rays have won his last four home starts, with all games decided in the eighth inning or later (so stay tuned).
-- JOE SMITH