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Floyd looks good as new in return to Rays lineup

Cliff Floyd, in his first game off the DL, singles in a run during a three-run first. He added a second RBI hit in the third.

Associated Press

Cliff Floyd, in his first game off the DL, singles in a run during a three-run first. He added a second RBI hit in the third.

ST. PETERSBURG — DH Cliff Floyd sure shook off the cobwebs in a big way Sunday afternoon.

The 35-year-old veteran, who spent four weeks on the disabled list after right knee surgery, came through in his first start since early April, ripping two sharply hit RBI singles off Angels starter Ervin Santana, one of which nearly took the right-hander's head off.

"It was very nice to see Cliff Floyd bring his 2-iron out on the field today; he can hit some vicious line drives," manager Joe Maddon said. "He makes a huge difference for us."

The left-handed slugger was expected to be a difference-maker when he was signed as a free agent in the offseason. Floyd started strong, going 5-for-15 with two homers and five RBIs in his first four games before an MRI exam revealed a torn medial meniscus. But he appeared to pick up where he left off.

Maddon said Floyd will be the primary DH against right-handers, with Eric Hinske in RF, spelled sometimes by Gabe Gross.

AKI ON TRACK: 2B Akinori Iwamura went 3-for-5 for his second straight three-hit game and appears to have put things together after an early season slump. The Rays leadoff man extended his hitting streak to nine games, boosting his average to .253. Though Iwamura's on-base percentage is just .315, Maddon said if the converted third baseman continues to pick up walks and avoid fly balls, he'll get his OBP to "where most good leadoff hitters are."

GLOVER BACK: RHP Gary Glover (shoulder tendinitis) will be activated today and rejoin the bullpen. To make room, the Rays will send down LHP Kurt Birkins.

Glover was 0-1 with a 1.69 ERA in nine games before going on the DL May 2. He had some rest and a cortisone shot, threw for the first time Wednesday and felt no problems. "I'm 100 percent ready," he said Sunday. Birkins (0.90 ERA) appeared in six games for the Rays.

ZOBRIST NEXT? INF Ben Zobrist (fractured left thumb) could also be activated as early as today after a successful, but lengthy, rehab stint. Zobrist, who has been on the disabled list since spring training, will get pins out of his thumb this morning, and doctors told him he could play the same day. Maddon said they'll wait to see how the procedure goes first.

Zobrist, who was getting groomed in the spring for the superutility role, suffered a hairline fracture sliding into second March 9. But a recent four-game rehab stint at Vero Beach, where he played shortstop, third and second, has him feeling ready to go.

"I feel real good at the plate; on the field, I'm getting my rhythm back," Zobrist said. "Originally I thought hitting would take longer, but just catching the ball took longer, until the last couple days in Vero, when it felt normal."

To make room for Zobrist, the team may send INF Andy Cannizaro back to Triple A Durham.

REHAB RUMBLINGS: Maddon said INF Willy Aybar (hamstring) will get some defensive assignments at extended spring this week, playing third, first and DH, with the plan for him to get some action at second base next week. RHP Al Reyes (biceps tendonitis) will throw what could be his final inning in extended spring today before getting activated soon.

PENA HONORED: Before Sunday's game, 1B Carlos Pena received his 2007 American League Silver Slugger Award in an onfield presentation. Pena is the first Ray to win one.

SWINGING PINK: The Rays players used special pink bats designed by Louisville Slugger for Mother's Day/Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

Floyd looks good as new in return to Rays lineup 05/11/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 12, 2008 1:21pm]
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