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Rays closer Percival healthy, ready to work

ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Troy Percival, activated from the disabled list Tuesday, will return to his regular closer role and said he's ready to resume pitching on back-to-back days if needed.

"I should be able to," Percival said. "I haven't had any problems with (the knee). It's not like it's an endurance issue. It's not like a muscle or anything like that. I haven't had any repercussions the day after doing anything. … I'm going to be ready to pitch whenever they ask me to pitch. My arm doesn't have any problems."

Percival, 39, is coming off his third DL stint of the season, having suffered cartilage damage in his right knee while fielding a bunt in Oakland on Aug. 14. Percival, who leads the team with 27 saves, said he's still deciding whether to wear a brace; he said he feels better wearing one when he fields ground balls. And he said the injury has slightly affected his mechanics.

"I'm just staying back a little longer, standing a little taller and throwing the ball downhill, which I should have been doing all along," Percival said. "It's actually made my offspeed pitches stronger — so far, anyway."

NEW additions: OF Fernando Perez and C John Jaso, called up from Triple-A Durham, arrived at the Trop on Tuesday, elated for the reserve roles they may play in the pennant chase.

Perez, a switch-hitter, will primarily be used as a pinch-runner or late-inning defensive replacement, but manager Joe Maddon said it also gives him room to give B.J. Upton a day off, if the need arises. Jaso provides insurance for C Dioner Navarro (who has recently been bothered by sore hamstrings) and backup C Shawn Riggans.

Perez, 25, one of the International League leaders in stolen bases (43) and triples (11), said the fact that he was called up Sunday — before rosters expanded — meant a lot. Jaso was recalled Tuesday.

"It makes you feel like it's not a 40-man formality," Perez said. "You're actually somewhat needed to plug a hole, or play a role, which I'm very … excited to do."

Jaso started the season in Double-A Montgomery. The 24-year-old said he was surprised when he was called up to Durham in July ("I thought I was getting fined") and dubbed the big-league call "unbelievable." Jaso hit .273 with 12 homers and 67 RBIs combined with Montgomery and Durham.

web gem: Maddon said Upton's spectacular over-the-shoulder catch in the second inning "might have been his best." Upton raced back to the warning track for an Alex Rodriguez fly, and, with his back to the infield, caught the ball a step from the wall, which he climbed to slow his momentum. "Not quite Spider-Man," Upton said. "They were telling me I should have ran up the wall like Bo Jackson, but I'm not that kind of athlete."

price check: LHP David Price, the 2007 top pick, will start for Durham tonight as the Bulls begin the IL playoffs against the Louisville Bats. The Bulls rotation also includes RHPs Mitch Talbot, Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis.

MISCELLANY: Maddon said "it's possible" 3B Evan Longoria (fractured right wrist) could return for this weekend's series in Toronto, but he still doesn't know as Longoria has yet to take batting practice. … Navarro, who has started one of the past six games, entered in the ninth Tuesday as a defensive replacement. … 1B Carlos Pena was selected as the Rays' recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award… Fox has picked up the Rays-Twins game at Tropicana Field on Sept. 20, with game time at 3:55 p.m. … RHP Juan Salas was recalled from Montgomery Tuesday. … The Rays have at least 10 hits in each of their past five games. … LHP Trever Miller made his first two-inning appearance since Aug. 3, 2006.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Rays closer Percival healthy, ready to work 09/02/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 3, 2008 7:03am]
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