B.J. Upton bats second, may stay there for Tampa Bay Rays in postseason

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Rays are close to setting their 25-man roster and setting up their four-man rotation for the playoffs.

And manager Joe Maddon may just be getting started tinker­ing with the lineup.

Maddon put B.J. Upton in the No. 2 spot Saturday for the first time this season and said he was "intrigued" enough to consider doing so next week. Upton, who was 1-for-3 with a sac fly, has been batting leadoff against left-handers and most recently eighth against right-handers.

Upton batted second in 15 of the 16 postseason games in 2008 and did well, hitting .287 with an AL record-tying seven homers and 16 RBIs. (Carl Crawford, who had just returned from an injury, batted fifth.)

"That's something that (Upton) had done a couple years ago and did pretty well," Maddon said. "B.J. really flourished in the No. 2 hole. You never know; for whatever reason, guys respond to different stimuli."

After a meeting with executive VP Andrew Friedman and the coaches, Maddon said they were close to agreement on the roster, but there could be changes based on their opponent, and there was still "good discussion back and forth regarding a couple different spots." The roster doesn't have to be set until 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Maddon also said they had settled on their four starters, but there was still some "vacillation" on what order they'd be used after LHP David Price works the opener. Matt Garza and Wade Davis seem set, with the final spot between James Shields and Jeff Niemann.

LONGORIA REPORT: 3B Evan Longoria (strained left quad) gave up his lobbying effort and accepted the decision that he won't return to the lineup until Wednesday's playoff opener.

"I kinda crumbled under the pressure," Longoria said. "It's the best thing for everybody. It's the best thing for me to try to get as close to 100 percent as I can be, and in turn hopefully that benefits the team and I don't reinjure myself and end up being out for I don't know how long."

Longoria said he was at about 80 percent and hoped to be close to 100 percent by Wednesday. He said there was 0 percent chance he wouldn't be back by then.

"I'll be playing Wednesday without a doubt," Longoria said. "That's the whole point of why I'm not playing now."

He also said if Saturday had been a playoff game, he would have been in the lineup.

He could make a pinch-hitting appearance today just to see live pitches if the Rays were comfortably ahead so he wouldn't have to run. There is also talk of having Longoria face some of their pitchers during Monday and Tuesday workouts.

Longoria will have missed 10 games and not played for 12 days by Wednesday, but he said he wasn't concerned, having come back after missing six games last season with a hamstring issue.

TALK TIME: Maddon addressed the players for about 20 minutes before the game, reviewing what they accomplished this season (specifically the great start) and revisiting their goals going forward in the playoffs, focusing on the importance of starting games well, and remaining aggressive.

UP IN THE AIR: Travel director Jeff Ziegler was hard at work finalizing two sets of travel plans for tonight, one to take the Rays home if they end up as AL East champs and the other to Minneapolis if they are the wild card.

Their Continental chartered plane has two flight plans on file, and they have busses set up in both places. Plus, they have 80 rooms and eight suites waiting at a Minneapolis hotel.

There are similar arrangements in Fort Worth, Texas, for the end of the week and Ziegler is dealing with scheduling and ticket issues in both locations.

"It's just a matter of duplicating efforts in both places," Ziegler said.

MISCELLANY: The Rays used eight pitchers in a nine-inning game for the third time. … Last week was the first in franchise history in which they were shut out three times. … The few remaining tickets for the first two home playoff games sold out.

B.J. Upton bats second, may stay there for Tampa Bay Rays in postseason 10/02/10 [Last modified: Monday, October 4, 2010 1:11pm]

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