For starters, Rays vs Indians
Update 6:03 p.m. Johnny Damon has played for seven different teams, so has had his share of reunions, but coming back to Tropicana Field to face the Rays this week is admittedly extra special.
Damon, who played for Tampa Bay last year and lives in the Orlando area, said it "feels like home."
"I miss not being here everyday," Damon said. "I'm not going to sugar coat it at all."
Damon reiterated how he had hoped to return this past offseason as a free agent, and from his conversations at the end of the season and over the winter, it seemed as though "everybody expected me back."
Damon said when he walked into the stadium, and on the field, seeing 162 Landing in leftfield, it brought back memories to their remarkable comeback to earn the Wild Card spot last year. "Maybe the best day in baseball history," he said.
Damon said he's proud the Rays have kept the tradition of lighting the Captain Morgan lamp in post-game celebrations, considering he brought it in last year.
"I don't want to hear about it being lit up the next four days," Damon said with a smile.
*Another ex-Ray from last year, Seminole High product Casey Kotchman, said he was also excited to be back at Trop. Kotchman said he got to visit with family in the area while at home, quipping he was "spoiled" last year by playing for his hometown team. "A tremendous blessing." Kotchman said he'd also be open for returning to the Rays in the future. "You never know," he said.
Update 5:27 p.m. Rays manager Joe Maddon said he's received good reports on OF Matt Joyce, and he could rejoin the team as early as Wednesday following another couple games with Triple-A Durham on his rehab assignment. Maddon said the decision will be made Tuesday.
*Maddon said 3B Evan Longoria (partially torn left hamstring) will probably join the team on its upcoming west coast road trip, with the potential he could leave the team from out there at some point to start a rehab assignment. That all depends on how Longoria progresses, the Rays just want a chance to watch him a little more closely.
*Despite the fact RHP James Shields is the latest to be coming up in trade rumors, Maddon reiterated he doesn't expect the Rays to make any major moves leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
*Maddon said he liked Will Rhymes in the leadoff spot again, something the infielder said he's had a lot of experience with his whole life (including the minor leagues). Maddon said OF Desmond Jennings will return to the top spot, and likes his progress, but he said you'd like to think it'll be "obvious" when the right time is.
*Maddon said C Jose Molina, set to play in his 56th game (after playing 55 last year), is doing well physically, and there's a potential he could play in the 80-100 game range this year.
Update 5:23 p.m. Here's the Rays lineup, with Will Rhymes once again on top
Developing: After losing two of three to the Red Sox, the Rays open up a four-game series with the Indians tonight at Tropicana Field.
It will feature the return of LF Johnny Damon and Seminole High product 1B Casey Kotchman, both Rays in 2011. Both are in the lineup for Cleveland tonight, with manager Joe Maddon expecting them to each get nice ovations from the crowd.
The Rays will have RHP Alex Cobb on the mound, making his second straight start against Cleveland. And the Indians will start RH Zach McAllister, who threw five hitless innings against Tampa Bay his last start before the Rays made a comeback.