For starters, Rays vs. A's
UPDATE, 6:23: Maddon was also pleased with what he saw from Howell, saying he "threw easily,'' didn't appear to be "masking anything" or holding back, "the delivery was good" and so was the finish was good. As for Howell's timetable to return for the May 27-30 White Sox series, Maddon said, essentially, we'll see: "If everything works out well that may happen that way.'' Howell will throw again on Friday; he'll go on a minor-league rehab assignment in mid-May and probably make 3-5 appearances. Maddon also said that when Howell comes back he will be handled carefully in terms of days he's used, number of pitches he throws, etc. .. Maddon also said that though Ben Zobrist has expanded his strike zone too much, as a result of being pitched harder, but Maddon is not considering taking Zobrist out of the No. 3 spot in the order. Zobrist has yet to hit a home run this season, though he has a .250 average and 9 RBIs.
UPDATE, 6:21: Late lineup change for the A's, as C Kurt Suzuki was scratched and replaced by Jake Fox. The new order:
UPDATE, 3:58: Howell says 1st bullpen session went well, feels good about late-May return: "That was 100 percent pass for me." He threw 32 pitches, last 20 or so at full distance: "I'm happy with it ... I feel good now."
UPDATE, 3:45: Rays lineup does not include Pat Burrell, with Willy Aybar starting at DH.
J.P. Howell throws off the bullpen mound before today's game.
The Rays are preparing for the finale of the quick two-game series with the A's tonight, with a chance to extend their major-league best 15-5 start and log a team-record 16th April win.
J.P. Howell, out since spring training with shoulder weakness, threw off the bullpen mound today. Also Rocco Baldelli took BP.
Catcher John Jaso is doing some early work with bullpen coach Bobby Ramos, and expected to be behind the plate tonight.
One thing to watch will be whether the Rays try to run much on Oakland starter Dallas Braden, who hasn't allowed a stolen base in his last 30 starts.