ST. PETERSBURG — DH Pat Burrell was activated from the disabled list Thursday and will rejoin the Rays for tonight's game.
The team's top offseason acquisition has missed 29 games with a neck strain. But Burrell, 32, came through Thursday's game with Class A Charlotte fine after going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
"He reported back that he's feeling pretty good," manager Joe Maddon said. "So rock and roll."
To make room, OF Matt Joyce was optioned to Triple-A Durham.
"Any time you get sent down, it's not a good feeling," Joyce said. "So you just go back to the drawing board, go back down and scratch and claw your way back up."
Joyce, a Tampa native in his second stint with the Rays this year, went 5-for-21 (.238) with two homers and six RBIs in eight games. He said he will work on defense and try to "tear it up to force them to bring you back up."
"I think (Matt's) going to be a very good major-league baseball player with us," Maddon said. "His time will come."
Burrell said Wednesday that his timing was still not good and he needed to rid himself of bad habits he picked up while his neck bothered him.
Maddon said with three potential games this weekend at DH, Burrell could get some needed at-bats before the team's road trip starts Tuesday. Maddon said it didn't concern him that the team will be playing six road interleague games (without a DH), which would relegate Burrell to a pinch-hit role.
"Then again, that one pinch-hit role may be extremely big," Maddon said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to utilize him in a situation where they have to pitch to him. And the other part is he knows the National League. So that might be something that is kind of fun for him."
Burrell, who signed a two-year, $16 million deal, hit .250 with one homer and 17 RBIs in his 30 games before going on the DL.
GETTING CLOSE: SS Jason Bartlett also appears to be nearing a return as he will start a three-game rehab assignment in Port Charlotte tonight. He'll DH in the first game and hopes to play shortstop in the next two. If all goes well, he's expected to rejoin the Rays for their road trip. He tested his sprained left ankle, which has kept him out of 16 games, by running the bases (and sliding) in a workout Thursday, saying everything felt good.
BACK ON TRACK: 3B Evan Longoria broke out of a career-long 0-for-19 skid with a fifth-inning homer. But Maddon also liked how Longoria got out of his habit of expanding his zone and chasing pitches.
"The last at-bat in the eighth inning, with a big lead, and the final pitch is a curveball in the dirt, he lays off," he said. "That's important."
UNLIKELY UNION: A Rays official watched Pedro Martinez throw in the Dominican Republic this week, but it appears unlikely the 217-game winner will end up in a Tampa Bay uniform.
Martinez, 37, went 5-6 with a 5.61 ERA for the Mets last season and threw six scoreless innings in the spring's World Baseball Classic. A Rays official in the Dominican, who has a prior relationship with Martinez, attended the workout in which the right-hander threw 20 pitches.
According to the initial report, from listindiario.com, Martinez might have another workout in the coming days.
DRAFT DONE: Though scouting director R.J. Harrison said most of the picks from the 31st round on are used to fill out rosters in the system, he pointed out, "There's been some guys that have fought their ways through systems" to the major leagues.
Whether the Rays got one on Thursday's third day of the draft remains to be seen. But they picked some interesting players, including 37th-rounder C Austin Maddox, a Florida commitment.
As for signing their top pick, CF LeVon Washington, Harrison said, "We're hoping to get him (signed) sooner than later. I think it's better for everybody involved."
Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.
Rays draft picks, Day 3
rd./pick name school
31/949 Aaron Dott, LHP Wisconsin-Whitewater
32/979 Alex Besaw, RHP Skagit Valley (Ore.) CC
33/1,009 Ryan McCarney, RHP Cal State Northridge
34/1,039 Kyle Spraker, SS Loyola Marymount (Calif.)
35/1,069 Chris Murrill, OF Nicholls State (La.)
36/1,099 Jeff Cinadr, RHP Toledo (Ohio)
37/1,129 Austin Maddox, C Jacksonville Eagle's View High
38/1,159 Drew Hillman, 3B Orange Coast (Calif.) CC
39/1,189 Dan April, LHP Mercer (Ga.)
40/1,219 James Pazos, LHP Gilbert (Ariz.) Highland High
41/1,249 Matthew Stabelfeld, LHP Lewis-Clark State (Calif.)
42/1,279 Bennett Davis, 3B Elon (N.C.)
43/1,309 Eugene Glynn, 3B Minnesota State-Mankato
44/1,339 Kalani Brackenridge, SS Kapolei (Hawaii) High
45/1,369 Cole Nelson, LHP Des Moines (Iowa) Area CC
46/1,399 Aaron Oates, 3B Oakland (Calif.) Skyline High
47/1,429 Jason Patton, RF Kent State (Ohio)
48/1,459 James Roberts, RF Parkland (Ill.) CC
49/1,489 Vince Spilker, RHP Raytown (Mo.) High
50/1,519 David Wendt, C Dowling (N.H.)