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Floyd finds feet, focus at good time for Rays

OAKLAND, Calif. — It must have been the shoes.

With fleet LF Carl Crawford undergoing potential season-ending hand surgery Thursday, DH Cliff Floyd slipped on Crawford's cleats as a show of support — and he turned out to get the inspiration.

Floyd was on base five times, scored a career-high four runs (twice from first and once from second) and legged out a key 12th-inning double after walking a career-high-tying four times.

"I pretty much emptied the tank today," Floyd said.

Crawford's 11½ blue-and-white Nikes are a size smaller than Floyd usually wears, but he decided to give it a try. "It makes me a little quicker," Floyd said. "I heard track stars wear a size smaller to make them faster, so I tried it."

With Crawford and Evan Longoria out of the lineup, the Rays are counting on Floyd to step up.

"That's what he's capable of doing for us," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's been down the road before, he knows what it takes, and you could definitely see the focus in his face."

Rocco report: The rare muscle-fatigue condition sometimes leaves Rocco Baldelli feeling like an old man. But Thursday he looked like the old Baldelli, making a diving ("Falling," he joked) catch, sliding to cut off a ball in the corner, singling and going first to third, then trying (unsuccessfully) to score when a pitch bounced away.

"I felt good coming out of it," Baldelli said. "I've gotten a lot of action out in the field, and I think my body's handled it pretty good. It was a lot, and I came out great."

Rules 101: B.J. Upton had another baserunning gaffe, failing to retouch second on his way back to first when Carlos Pena's liner to right was caught.

Maddon said Upton understood the rule but lost track of where he was. "We talked to him about it, and I don't think you'll see that again," he said.

Down note: Rays starter James Shields had what, for him, was a disappointing outing, walking a career-high five, including three in an inning for just the second time in his career (last on July 15, 2006). "I was terrible today," he said.

Draft breeze: Scouting director R.J. Harrison said Thursday that he is "very optimistic" of a deal with No. 2 draft pick LHP Kyle Lobstein before tonight's midnight deadline. Lobstein, who has a scholarship offer to Arizona, could be in line for a bonus of about $1-million. With 21st-rounder LHP Ryan Carpenter opting Thursday for a scholarship to Gonzaga, the Rays, with Lobstein, will have signed 26 of their top 28 picks. The other to get away was No. 15 OF Brandon Meredith, who opted for San Diego State.

NO LONGER SHORT: Jason Bartlett (bruised right index finger) made his first appearance at shortstop since being hit by a pitch Aug. 3, and Maddon said there is a "pretty good shot" he will start tonight.

Miscellany: Team spokesman Chris Costello said Crawford's right middle finger surgery went well. … Even though top prospect LHP David Price had a rough Triple-A debut Wednesday, Maddon said he was still "on target" to eventually join the Rays (without saying when) and that a few bumps along the way are not necessarily bad. … The Rays tied a team record by using eight pitchers; they did it Sept. 27, 1998, at New York. … The Rays are guaranteed no worse than a .500 finish to the season-long 10-game road trip by improving to 5-2. … Texas slugger and former Rays No. 1 pick Josh Hamilton skipped Thursday's game against the Red Sox to be with his wife for the birth of their daughter and might be out again tonight. … The Rays are now 7-0-1 in series since the All-Star break. … 2B Akinori Iwamura extended his hitting streak to five games.

Floyd finds feet, focus at good time for Rays 08/14/08 [Last modified: Saturday, August 16, 2008 2:57pm]
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