Shakin it up Saturday
OF Rocco Baldelli will take the next step in his comeback by joining Class A Vero Beach next week and playing as their DH on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Typically a minor-league rehab assignment is only for 20 days, but the Rays acknowledge this is an unusual situation and that Baldelli could take longer. In fact, they are committing only to having him play the three games (all at home) and then be re-evaluated. Baldelli has been sidelined since spring training with a rare condition that causes muscle fatigue in his legs; he hasn't played in a big-league game since May 15, 2007.
Also, manager Joe Maddon said 1B Carlos Pena is making good progress in his recovering from a fractured left index finger. He is eligible to come off the DL on Thursday and might not need much longer.
With LF Carl Crawford still serving his suspension from the Red Sox brawl and Carlos Pena still on the DL, it was expected that the Rays would have to shake their lineup a bit.
That's definitely the case today as Tampa Bay hosts the upstart Marlins for game two of a three-game set at the Trop, the second of a nine-game,interleague homestand.
Justin Ruggiano takes Crawford's place in left- and in the order at the second spot. Dioner Navarro slides to the three-hole, and B.J. Upton in cleanup. Jonny Gomes also gets a start, at DH against the lefthanded Mark Hendrickson (an ex-Ray).
One thing to watch today will be the chemistry between starter Matt Garza and Dioner Navarro. Both claim their heated scuffle in Sunday's game is over and done with, as Garza admits he needs to settle down, and Navarro equating it to a family thing, where "big brother fights little brother."
"I think we'll be great (today)," Navarro said.
-- JOE SMITH