For starters, Rays vs Tigers, with Kapler in center
Update 11:15 a.m. CF B.J. Upton tested his sprained left ankle this morning by running in a straight line in the outfield with strength and conditioning coordinator Kevin Barr, saying it felt good. But he said the real test will be doing change of direction running, which he may try Friday before the Rays open a series with the Yankees.
Upton said he's available to pinch-hit, and may be able to play defense, but the Rays will likely be cautious with it.
*Manager Joe Maddon said with an already-planned day off for SS Jason Bartlett, and a short bench, it made for CF Gabe Kapler getting a start against right-hander Rick Porcello. Maddon also likes to get his bench players involved, so getting Kapler his first start since July 18 he feels is a good thing.
*A few milestones to watch today. LHP David Price is going to try to tie the club record with 14 wins. And LF Carl Crawford has 99 triple and 399 steals, and could become just the second player in the modern era to rack up 100 triples and 400 steals before he turns 29 (joining Ty Cobb). Crawford turns 29 on Aug. 5.
Developing: The Rays will go for a four-game sweep of the Tigers today with a matinee at Tropicana Field, and All-Star LHP David Price on the mound.
As expected, Ben Zobrist is out of the lineup, one day after leaving Wednesday's game with lower back stiffness. He said it doesn't feel any better this morning, still stiff, but is hopeful it can start loosening up soon and he can get back on the field. Zobrist blamed himself, saying the stiffness is a product of too many swings in the batting cage, admittedly ignoring some warning signs that he should be taking it easy.
With Zobrist and B.J. Upton (sprained left ankle) out, Gabe Kapler will get a rare start in center. It'll be his first start since July 18th, as the Rayas haven't faced many lefties in the past few weeks.