ST. PETERSBURG — The irritation in 1B Carlos Pena's left eye Wednesday night was nothing like the pain he went through taking himself out of Thursday's game after two innings.
Pena was relaxing at home early Wednesday night when he felt something in his left eye and rubbed it. The result, he found out after some extreme pain and an emergency visit to team eye doctor Mark Sibley, was a scratched cornea and some significantly blurred vision.
Pena tried to play through it, joking he could strike out just as easily with one eye or two, but got concerned when he had trouble tracking the throws from the infielders during warmups. "I said this is getting borderline dangerous right here," Pena said, "not only for myself but for the team."
Pena, using drops and antibiotics and wearing a clear contact for protection, said he expects to play tonight.
GOOD COMPANY: Triple-A hitting coach Gary Gaetti was sitting home in Houston on Thursday, watching Evan Longoria homer in his first two career postseason at-bats, when the memories flooded back.
"I think Evan and I are the only two people that have ever done that," he told his wife, Donna.
Indeed they are. Gaetti, playing for the Twins, homered in his first two-at-bats of the 1987 AL playoffs against Detroit. Longoria, whom Gaetti coached in 2007 and briefly this season, matched him. "I think that's really cool," Gaetti said.
RIGHT ON: With the Sox starting left-hander Mark Buehrle tonight, either Rocco Baldelli or rookie Fernando Perez will start in rightfield.
Pena's status may force the decision. If he can play, Baldelli likely will be in right with Aybar as the DH; if he can't, Aybar will play first, Baldelli will DH and Perez would play right.
ROSTER ROUNDING: The decision to leave RHP Troy Percival off the 25-man Division Series roster was a tough one, Maddon said, but the right one due to the effects of his sore back.
"As much as he's battling, and he's a Braveheart, that's what he is, I could tell he's not right, and I think in his heart of hearts he knows he's not," Maddon said.
The Rays are hopeful of getting Percival back if they advance to the next round, and he will stay in St. Petersburg to pitch in instructional league games Saturday and possibly Monday.
RHPs Edwin Jackson, whom the Rays weren't comfortable using in relief, and Jason Hammel will pitch there Friday to stay "stretched out" should the Rays need to add another starter.
Rookie LHP David Price, who made the roster in their places, will be used primarily in long relief. "They've been showing faith in me all year," Price said.
KAZ ON TRACK: LHP Scott Kazmir has given up four homers in two of his past three starts but said he has been working hard leading up to tonight's start to "find a comfort zone I'm looking for."
MISCELLANY: Due to some reconfiguration for additional media and other reasons, Trop capacity was reduced from 36,048 to 35,041. … Gates open at 3:30 today. … Dan Wheeler recorded his first postseason save in his 14th appearance. … LF Carl Crawford made his first start since his Aug. 9 right hand injury and batted fifth for the first time in his career. … Longoria attended the 10th-ranked USF football team's game against Pittsburgh at Raymond James Stadium and was shown on ESPN.
Staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.