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For starters, Rays at Mariners with Jaso behind the plate

UPDATE, 8:43: As expected, Maddon said the catching decision was based on Vargas' numbers, and that Shoppach likely will be back behind the plate Sunday against lefty Erik Bedard. .. Maddon also said Kotchman looked good and he was hoping he could play Saturday, and possibly be available tonight. ... RHP Jeff Niemann (lower back strain) pitched well in the first of his three rehab starts, going four innings for Class A Charlotte, allowing only one hit.

Mariners lineup:
Suzuki rf
Ryan ss
Smoak 1b
Cust dh
Gutierrez cf
Kennedy 2b
Olivo c
Figgins 3b
Peguero lf
Vargas p

UPDATE, 8:01: Kotchman took his first swings since spraining the ankle and some ground balls and said he felt "really good" and hopes to play on Saturday. He will go through the full pre-game workout tonight to test it. ... Shoppach said he expected to play today, and isn't hurt or anything, so it was purely Maddon's decision. The fact that Vargas has allowed a .329 average to lefties and .242 to righties probably has something to do with it.

UPDATE, 6:27: Rays lineup has Jaso starting against lefty Jason Vargas over Shoppach, Damon on top and Joyce back to the cleanup spot.

The lineup:
Damon DH
Zobrist 2b
Longoria 3b
Joyce rf
Upton cf
Rodriguez ss
Lopez 1b
Jaso c
Ruggiano lf
Sonnanstine p

DEVELOPING: The Rays are looking to even their series with the Mariners tonight as they send Andy Sonnanstine to the mound against lefty Jason Vargas.

The Rays have been struggling to score runs again, and struggling to win. They have also been playing sloppy defense.

They are expected to be without 1B Casey Kotchman again tonight as he recovers from his right ankle sprain sustained last Sunday. Manager Joe Maddon said Kotchman is targeted to return Saturday.


[Last modified: Sunday, July 3, 2011 12:15am]


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