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For starters, Rays at Yankees

Update 6:14 p.m. Manager Joe Maddon said he decided to hit RF Hideki Matsui cleanup tonight on a hunch, noting that the veteran ex-Yankee has a "flair for the dramatic."

"Why not have him hit fourth and have him hit a home run?" Maddon said with a smile. "We stay in the theater district while we're in town, and I thought it might be good theater for tonight."

Matsui, who played seven years in New York (making two All-Star appearances and winning the World Series MVP in 2009) was surrounded by dozens of Japanese and New York media before today's game. He said when his career is over, his memories with the Yankees will likely be the strongest of his career.

*LF Desmond Jennings (left knee sprain) is back and in the starting lineup, saying he's 100-percent and ready to go with no restrictions. He will use a brace on his knee for a while, but has been able to get used to it. 

*With the first All-Star voting results announced today, Maddon said his team's most solid contenders for spots are RHP James Shields, LHP David Price, closer RHP Fernando Rodney, and OF Matt Joyce.  

Developing: The first-place Rays will begin a three-game series with the Yankees tonight in New York.

There's a great pitching matchup with RHP James Shields and Yankees veteran LHP Andy Pettitte, who came out of retirement this past offseason.

The Rays made some news before the game, activating LF Desmond Jennings (left knee sprain) from the disabled list, and optioning OF Rich Thompson to Triple-A Durham to make room. Jennings is back in the lineup and leading off, and in leftfield.

Ex-Yankee Hideki Matsui will make the start in rightfield, and bat cleanup, with 1B Carlos Pena moved down to sixth.

3B Evan Longoria, who has missed over a month with a partial left hamstring tear, is still ranked third in All-Star voting among AL third basemen, trailing just Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre and Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera. Among other notable Rays, CF B.J. Upton is 16th among outfielders, and - surprisingly - OF Matt Joyce (an All-Star last season) is not among the top-15.


Rays lineup
Jennings lf
Upton cf
Zobrist 2b
Matsui rf
Rodriguez 3b
Pena 1b
Scott dh
Molina c
Johnson ss
Shields rhp

Yankees lineup
Jeter ss
Granderson cf
Rodriguez 3b
Cano 2b
Teixeira 1b
Ibanez lf
Swisher rf
Chavez dh
Martin c
Pettitte lhp

JOE SMITH

joesmith@tampabay.com

 

[Last modified: Thursday, July 5, 2012 12:39am]

    

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