Jim Thome, Derek Jeter could reach milestones against Tampa Bay Rays

MINNEAPOLIS — Granted, it might take some extraordinary efforts, but the Rays could be party to a pair of impressive milestones this week — Jim Thome's 600th home run and Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit.

Thome, the Twins DH, would need five home runs in the next two games. Jeter, the Yankees shortstop, returned from the disabled list Monday and went hitless to remain six hits shy.

"Both are awesome accomplishments, and both are really deserving, class individuals; I've got a lot of respect for both guys," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "They're going to both do it at some point, hopefully not against us, but if it were to happen, that's fine. They're both just really deserving members of baseball history."

Asked to pick, Maddon said Thome's milestone is more impressive, given that 27 players have reached 3,000 hits and only seven have 600 home runs.

"That would be the one way to look at it," Maddon said.

Tough critic: All-Star LHP David Price was typically hard on himself after his losing effort, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk over six innings.

"I felt like I threw the ball fine, (but) it's not good enough," he said. "I gave up four runs in six innings. So I've got to work on it."

Price said he was surprised to be pulled after six innings, and 92 pitches, his fewest since May 28, 2010.

STARRY-EYED: The Rays All-Stars — OF Matt Joyce, RHP James Shields and Price — have been making plans for the July 12 game in Phoenix, sorting out ticketing and travel plans for friends and relatives and themselves. One option under discussion is sharing a chartered plane with the Yankees All-Stars.

The Rays All-Stars were also busy responding to numerous congratulatory text, voice-mail and e-mail messages.

Joyce — who is open to taking part in the home run derby if invited — said one of his best was from his Armwood High baseball coach, Joey Fernandez: "He said, 'congrats on being an All-Star, remember that I still throw a good BP if you're in the Home Run Derby,' and I texted him back, 'Still? When did you ever throw good BP?' "

INF/OF Ben Zobrist hopes to join them by winning the mlb.com online vote for the final roster spot (through 4 p.m. Thursday) but is realistic since the competition includes White Sox 1B Paul Konerko: "He's had a great year; he deserves to go. I figured if somebody from Boston, Chicago or New York made it, it was going to be tough."

PITCHING IN: With Price expected to pitch in the All-Star Game, the Rays had to reconsider plans for their postbreak rotation, Maddon said.

Originally they wanted to have Price and Shields (who won't be eligible to pitch in the All-Star Game since he is pitching Sunday) start the first two games against the Red Sox (July 15-16) and then the last two in the ensuing series against the Yankees.

"That still could be, or it could switch up," Maddon said. "We're still debating a couple things."

How much Price will pitch is part of the issue, and Maddon expects the Rays to get a call this week from AL/Texas manager Ron Washington on his plans.

Zo no go: Zobrist was out of the lineup for the first time since May 22 and third time overall. He said he was feeling tired; Maddon said it was more a matter of a head cold.

Maddon had planned on playing him but said after they talked Monday morning that it was "a no-brainer" to change the lineup. "I'd been looking to give him a day off anyways," he said.

MISCELLANY: Bucs coach Raheem Morris will be Maddon's guest for Saturday's game at Yankee Stadium. … The Rays dropped to 4-10 on July 4, 1-8 on the road. … DH Johnny Damon moved to within one hit of tying Nellie Fox for 68th all time at 2,663.

Jim Thome, Derek Jeter could reach milestones against Tampa Bay Rays 07/04/11 [Last modified: Monday, July 4, 2011 11:19pm]

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