MIAMI — INF Ben Zobrist arrived Tuesday. SS Jason Bartlett is leaving this morning. 2B Akinori Iwamura might not be going anywhere until Friday.
The fluid situation that is the middle of the Rays infield actually could work out pretty well, given the possibilities for significant disruption.
And as much as the suspensions stemming from the brawl June 5 in Boston have caused problems, the Rays may have caught a break Tuesday.
Iwamura's hearing on the appeal of his three-game ban was delayed, due to a scheduling problem, from Tuesday afternoon until noon today. With MLB disciplinarian Bob Watson expected to take a day or two to make a decision, and with the Rays playing a 12:10 p.m. game Thursday, Iwamura likely wouldn't have to sit out until Friday.
Bartlett is planning to rejoin the team by then, assuming there are no complications with the birth of his first child. His wife, Kelly, is having labor induced this morning in St. Petersburg, and Bartlett is booked on an early morning flight and headed straight to the hospital.
There could be more good news as Iwamura, and interpreter Bori Uchibori, will press to have his suspension shortened. "You have to have a reason to appeal, and hopefully we're going to get it reduced," manager Joe Maddon said.
BABY BOOM: Bartlett, who had Uchibori monitoring his cell phone during Tuesday's game, said he was excited and nervous about the impending birth. "I'm sure (this) morning it'll be even more," he said. "She's nervous, she's calling me, and asking all her friends what to expect, so she's feeling it."
BEN'S BACK: Zobrist played only two games in the field (and one at DH) after spending two weeks on the DL at Triple-A Durham with a shoulder strain, but he and Rays officials are convinced he can handle the back-to-back games at shortstop. "I feel good, I feel like my timing's pretty good even though I haven't swung a whole lot, my shoulder's feeling pretty good," Zobrist said.
PERCY MERCY: RHP Troy Percivcal, now ninth all-time with 342 saves, said the left hamstring strain that forced him to the DL is still an issue and the reason he has had control problems. "My leg is still a little bit weak … so I end up changing my mechanics a little bit but it's nothing I can't deal with,'' he said. "I've just got to find a better way (with my delivery). I've had a few days where I've thrown the ball really good; today I just did not throw the ball well. But in the job that I do, the only thing that matters is that at the end of the game we win.''
McGEE SIDELINED: LHP Jake McGee, one of the Rays' top prospects, was placed on the Double-A Montgomery DL with a left elbow strain.
REHAB REPORT: 1B Carlos Pena was to go through a full pregame workout, and Maddon said "it's possible" he'll return this weekend. … OF Rocco Baldelli did not pinch-hit as planned for Class A Vero due to a mixup on the lineup card. He's scheduled to DH today in a noon game at Clearwater. … RHP Al Reyes, on the DL with right shoulder tendinitis, has started playing catch and feeling better.
MISCELLANY: J.P. Howell picked up his sixth win, most among AL relievers. … Iwamura's homer was the 200th of his professional career, 12th in the majors. … Fort Lauderdale product C Shawn Riggans left tickets for 42 friends and relatives, then joked: "I told them I'd take care of one night; they're on their own (tonight)." … LHP Scott Kazmir's reason for leaving after Sunday's game without talking to reporters: "I was just frustrated with my performance." … Fresno State product RHP Matt Garza said he made good-luck calls to some team members before the final round of the College World Series.