ST. PETERSBURG — Though an MRI exam revealed no serious issues with Dioner Navarro's hamstrings, the All-Star catcher sat out Wednesday's game and could be rested again tonight.
Navarro left Tuesday's game in the sixth with cramps in his left and right hamstrings. Manager Joe Maddon said Navarro was available off the bench Wednesday and could catch, but the Rays wanted to be cautious.
Backup C Shawn Riggans got the start, going 0-for-3. Navarro said he wasn't sure if he'd play today.
"It's like when you get a seizure, your muscles tighten up and they get a little bit sore," Navarro said. "That's how I feel right now. No pull, nothing bad. Let's give it a little rest and see how it feels (today)."
Maddon has recently tried to give Navarro back-to-back days off to keep him fresh down the stretch. He said he'll continue to keep an eye on the 24-year-old, who is batting .290 with six homers and 43 RBIs.
RIPKEN WITH RAYS: Cal Ripken was at the Trop for the announcement that his group has purchased and relocated the Rays' Class A team to Port Charlotte in the Florida State League. The Hall of Famer said he was attracted to the state's baseball market as well as the Rays' creative ideas.
The third minor-league club acquired by Ripken Baseball will be headed by general manager Joe Hart, formerly GM of the Nashville Sounds .
"It's awful great when you have an organization that has good prospects, good scouting, and you start to sell the players that go through the league and actually sell winning a little bit if you are winning," Ripken said. "So that prospect is really exciting to me."
Ripken, who turned 48 on Sunday, said it has also been exciting watching the Rays from afar, saying their rise to the top of the AL East is "marvelous" for baseball. Ripken threw out the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday, donning a Rays jersey.
"There's a lot of energy, the Rays are the talk of the whole country, not just here," he said. "And lot of the talk is will they hold on? Will they falter in the second half? And watching the nucleus of the club … I think they're for real and they'll be there all the way to the end."
LESSON LEARNED: For Justin Ruggiano, the spectacular game-ending catch was a bit of "redemption." One week earlier, he cautiously allowed a ball to drop in front of him in left in a 5-4 loss to the Angels, sparking a meeting with Maddon, who told him not to lose his aggressiveness. "I told him I'd prefer seeing you impale yourself against the wall," Maddon said.
"It stuck with me," Ruggiano said.
Ruggiano, who had made a nice running catch in the first in rightfield, was switched to left before the ninth. With two outs, Rod Barajas smashed a long fly that Ruggiano thought was a homer, but the rookie leaped to the top of the wall to make the catch, falling to the warning track after the impact.
"It was a little redemption for me," he said. "I feel good, that he moved me from right to left in that last inning. It's confidence from the manager and it trickles down."
Ruggiano learned another lesson in his first-inning catch, when he nearly collided with CF B.J. Upton on an Alex Rios flyout to right-center. Having to cover a lot of ground, Ruggiano said he originally lost the ball in the lights and said neither of them called for it.
"B.J. just said he wasn't used to me being in rightfield," Ruggiano said. "We talked about it. Now we know to be a little more vocal."
MISCELLANY: 3B Evan Longoria (fractured right wrist) took swings with a Wiffle bat and said his rehab is progressing well. … The Rays-Yankees game on Wednesday has been picked up by ESPN.
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]s.com.