Monday, April 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Escobar avoids broken hand

DENVER — The bad news was SS Yunel Escobar had to leave Saturday's game after being hit on the left hand by a first-inning pitch from Colorado's Jon Garland.

The good news was the hand wasn't broken — X-rays at a hospital were negative — and the Rays said he will miss at least the next 2-3 days but not much more.

Escobar looked to be in bad shape after being hit. He was attended to for several minutes by head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield before leaving the field.

"He thought he broke his hand at the time,'' bench coach Dave Martinez said in translating Escobar's comments. "He's very grateful and happy that it wasn't broken.''

Still, Escobar said, it was stiff and swollen, and he was wearing a wrap on it.

Ben Zobrist moved to shortstop from second, where Ryan Roberts took his place, and is the likely replacement until Escobar returns. Zobrist started 47 games at short last season and four this season when Escobar was out with hamstring tightness.

NO JAKIN': Rays manager Joe Maddon has a pretty straightforward answer to those insisting LHP Jake McGee (0-2, 10.24 ERA) needs to further develop and implement a pitch besides his fastball. "I disagree with that," Maddon said, "100 percent."

Basically, Maddon said, McGee must do a better job with his fastball.

"I think that's overstated," Maddon said. "I think he doesn't need to have (an extra pitch). Everybody keeps talking about that. Last year he was pretty much wall to wall with the fastball. I really believe that he just has to get his velocity back to where it had been, which is in there, and the location of his fastball.

"Those are the two biggest items with Jake to this point that I think that have been off."

Further, Maddon said, he doesn't want McGee, who threw a few slider/cutters Friday against the Rockies, thinking he has to do things differently just because he hasn't been as sharp this season as last.

"He has to just be Jake," Maddon said. "If he wants to continue to work on that other pitch, I'm fine with that. But his success is always going to be rooted in him throwing a good fastball that rides and he throws it where he wants to."

BIG SWINGER: RHP Alex Cobb can't wait for today's game against the Rockies, not so much for what he hopes to do on the mound as at the plate. He'll get to hit not only for the first time in the majors, but since his days at Vero Beach High.

"I'm pretty excited," said Cobb, who has been taking extra batting practice. "I've got to kind of contain myself a little bit and not focus too much on the hitting part of things and remember I've got a game to pitch, too."

MARQUEE MATCHUP: Thursday's game at the Trop will feature a rare matchup between the reigning Cy Young Award winners: the Rays' David Price and now-Jay/then Met R.A. Dickey.

It will be the third such meeting since the award was first awarded by leagues in 1969. The previous two: Tom Glavine (Braves) vs. Roger Clemens (Yankees, acquired from the Blue Jays) in 1999 and Frank Viola (Mets, acquired from the Twins) vs. Orel Hershiser (Dodgers) in 1989.

MISCELLANY: The Rays' streak with a homer ended at a team-record 17 games, 10 shy of the Rangers' majors record. … Top prospect Wil Myers, is in a slump, 5-for-34 with 15 strikeouts, dropping his average to .275. … Rockies INF Josh Rutledge is the boyfriend of former Sun Sports reporter Laura McKeeman, who now works on Padres broadcasts. … Maddon on his Kentucky Derby pick: "I had Overanalyze, which (3B Evan Longoria) said was appropriate." He finished 11th. … The Rockies are expected to activate RHP Jhoulys Chacin, who will start, and 1B Todd Helton from the DL today.

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