ST. PETERSBURG — It didn't take long for 2B Logan Forsythe to make his presences felt Friday in his return to the lineup. He doubled home a run in his second at-bat to give the Rays a 3-0 lead in the second inning.
When asked to quantify what Forsythe means to the lineup, manager Kevin Cash said, "Huge piece. Important. I don't know how you describe it more. We missed him."
Forsythe was batting .308 overall and .462 with runners in scoring position on May 9 when he was struck on his left shoulder blade by Seattle RHP Felix Hernandez, a blow that left a hairline fracture.
After getting at-bats Tuesday during a simulated game at Tropicana Field, Forsythe played in two games with Triple-A Durham, getting two hits in five at-bats with a home run Thursday night. Forsythe said his timing at the plate returned quickly, so why wait?
"I just feel like it's a good time to get back and get rolling," he said. "Get back with the guys and try to get a consistent lineup rolling again and try to help the guys win."
That lineup produced wins in five of the Rays past six games entering Friday. With Forsythe back at second base, Cash has to do some juggling. Namely, what happens to UTL Steve Pearce?
Pearce, who returned to the lineup Friday for the first time in eight games because of a sore right elbow, received the bulk of the playing time at second base in Forsythe's absence.
"I don't foresee him playing second base quite as often, I think that's fair to say," Cash said. "We'll do a good job of moving Pearcy around, for sure. I'm excited to have him back in the lineup. It's been a little bit of a struggle because his elbow has been giving him some issues. He's impacted us off the bench with some big hits in Arizona, so it's good to get him back in there today."
Despite Pearce playing first base Friday, Cash said he does not envision Pearce and Morrison platooning between first and DH.
"No, I think we're going to have to mix and match," Cash said. "It's going to be difficult to manage through. If they're hitting like they are, it's a good problem to have."
HOME WOES: The Rays opened a nine-game homestand Friday, hoping to build on the momentum generated with wins in five of their last six games on the road trip. That's a tall order since the Rays began play Friday 11-15 at Tropicana Field.
They average more than 11/2 runs less per game at the Trop than on the road.
"I don't have a good answer for that," Cash said. "I don't think anybody does, but we need to figure it out. As difficult as it was to keep our heads above water on that tough stretch of the road we're going to have that opportunity to play well here, because we have a lot of (home) games coming up. We got to find a way because this is what's going to keep us in this race and keep us competitive in the American League East division."
NOTEWORTHY: To make room for Forsythe, INF Nick Franklin was optioned to Durham … OF Brandon Guyer (hamstring) threw Friday and took dry swings for the first time since going on the DL … CF Kevin Kiermaier will take photos before Sunday's game with fans at the Republic Bank Draft Room Season Ticket Club … Chewbacca Mom will throw out the first pitch today as part of Stars Wars Night festivities.