For starters, Rays at Orioles, delayed due to incoming storm
Update: The game is scheduled to start now at 8:10
Update 6:53 p.m With "light showers" anticipated, the Rays-Orioles game tonight has been delayed indefinitely. The tarp is now on the field. We'll keep you posted.
Update 5:53 p.m. RF Matt Joyce was scratched from tonight's lineup with what the team called "post-injection soreness" in his left shoulder, which had bothered him the past week and a half.
Joyce, who ranks second in the league in hitting, was replaced by Justin Ruggiano.
Joyce said with the team having an offday Thursday, he stayed in L.A. and had a cortisone shot taken, which resulted in some lingering soreness today. He said manager Joe Maddon suggested he back off a day, but fully expects to be "good-to-go" for Saturday's game against the Orioles.
"It was something that I actually felt in the offseason, and had the same shot right before spring training and was good to go," Joyce said. "Same thing, it started flaring up, take another shot and good to go."
Manager Joe Maddon isn't concerned about it, saying it was just a one-day thing, with Joyce saying he could pinch-hit tonight if need be.
In other pre-game news from Maddon's session:
*Maddon said that INF Elliot Johnson, who will play five innings at short tonight for Triple-A Durham, will be back with the team tommorrow in Baltimore, when they'll decide whether he's ready to be activated from the DL or not.
*Maddon had good reports on RHP Jeff Niemann (lower back soreness), saying after his next rehab start next week with Durham, they'll see if he's ready to rejoin the rotation.
*Bullpen coach Bobby Ramos will be the bench coach tonight, as regular bench coach Davey Martinez is attending his son's high school graduation (but will be back tommorrow).
Update 5:00 p.m. The Rays lineup has been revised, with RF Matt Joyce taken out, and RF Justin Ruggiano put in. No word yes as to why there has been a change.
New Rays lineup
Update 4:21 p.m. Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, who is back in the lineup after being out of the lineup for three games with strep throat, said he feels "back to normal" and ready to put all his injuries and setbacks this season behind him.
Longoria missed most of the first month with a strained left oblique, and injury he said he has to keep tabs on every day, but it's doing fine now. Considering Longoria has said he'd love to be the kind of player than can play 162 games, sitting out has been a bit frustrating.
"It seems to be one thing after another right now," Longoria said. "Again, I've never been a negative kind of guy, and at this point, I'm not going to be negative about it. It just so happened that I had a little trouble with the oblique and then get sick and we're looking at four days where I don't get to play. Disappointing as it was, I was at home, didn't get to play in front of the hometown crowd. I'm just happy to be back right now, and I've got an opportunity, we've got 100 games or so left, I've still got a lot of time to hopefully make up some ground and help this team."
*In other news, RHP Jeff Niemann, who is on the DL with a lower back strain, is back with the team in Baltimore to get treatment and throw in front of pitching coach Jim Hickey and the staff. Niemann said his rehab stint is going really well, saying his last start in Durham Wednesday (when he gave up four runs and seven hits in four innings) was "very encourging" and he "felt strong the whole time."
Niemann said he'll make one more start with Triple-A Durham early next week, and hopes to be back with the Rays after that.
"Everything is feeling good right now," Niemann said. "Back feels good and strong."
*The Rays say INF Elliot Johnson, on the DL with a left knee sprain, is scheduled to play five innings at shortstop tonight for Durham. It appears Johnson could return to the Rays as early as Saturday here in Baltimore.
Update 4:18 p.m Here's the Orioles lineup
Update 3:31 p.m. As expected, 3B Evan Longoria returned to the Rays lineup for tonight's game against the Orioles.
Developing: The Rays continue their road trip tonight in Baltimore with Jeremy Hellickson on the mound.
Hellickson has been on a roll, going 6-1 with a 1.74 ERA over his last seven starts, holding opponent's to a .178 average. The Orioles lineup will be missing one of their bigger bats, as 1B Derrek Lee is expected to be out the entire series while on the bereavement list (his grandfather passed away).
Tampa Bay should have 3B Evan Longoria back in the lineup. Longoria, who was out of the lineup the past three games with a severe flu, said he felt fine after his 10th inning appearance Wednesday in Anaheim and expected to return tonight.
It's going to be a hot weekend here in Baltimore, with temperatures in the 90s currently. The Rays, on an 11-game, 12-day, coast-crossing road trip, have won four of the seven games so far, including a sweep over the Angels.
--- JOE SMITH