SEATTLE — Jason Bartlett can hit and run, but can't throw. Evan Longoria can run and might be able to throw, but can't hit. Rocco Baldelli wants to hit, but can't get on the field.
The Rays are hoping that their constantly changing lineup is stabilized by Tuesday, when they open a three-game series in Oakland, with Bartlett back at shortstop, Longoria at third and Baldelli activated for the first time since May 2007.
Until then, it's going to be more juggling and creative (lineup) writing by manager Joe Maddon.
Saturday night, Bartlett was limited to DH duties — and hitting fifth for the first time in his major-league career — due to the bruised right index finger that prevents him from throwing. Longoria, their top home run and RBI man, was again out of the lineup due to the bruised right wrist he sustained when hit by a pitch Thursday. And Baldelli, who hasn't faced live pitching since Aug. 1, continued to wait for the Rays to create room on the roster.
Bartlett, hit by a pitch Aug. 3, has made little progress trying to throw daily so has been shut down from throwing for a couple of days, with the idea that the rest will reduce the swelling and pain. He is shooting to return Tuesday; the Rays are hopeful but unsure.
"I think that's a realistic goal right now," he said. "Obviously I tried to get back here (in Seattle), but just trying to throw every day kind of puts a snag in getting better. Hopefully the first day in Oakland I should be good to go."
Longoria said "the bat feels a lot better in my hand than it did (Friday)," but not good enough to hit, and he was reluctant to risk further injury by trying. He said he'd "like to think" he could return today and Maddon said it was "possible," but, with the Rays off Monday, Tuesday sounds more realistic.
"It's halfway better right now," Longoria said. "It's just a better decision for me to rest it and get healthy rather than try to rush back and maybe re-injure it or hurt myself even more. I think with a day or two more I should be back to full health, and by the time we start the Oakland series I'll be ready to go."