Rays closer Percival to avoid surgery, return soon

ST. PETERSBURG — Veteran closer Troy Percival is not having surgery on his right knee and expects to be pitching again in less than two weeks.

Percival, on the disabled list with cartilage damage, said he plans to get back on the mound in about five days and should be ready when he's eligible to come off the DL on Aug. 30. The 39-year-old anticipated having surgery Monday morning when he met with Dr. Koco Eaton, but he chose not to when told he'd have to miss the rest of the regular season.

"Without it, it's very feasible that (I'll be back within) two weeks," Percival said. "I've just got to deal with pain and go. It's (not) going to do any more damage. Once I'm good to go, I'll be out there. … The pain is tolerable."

Percival, who spent two previous stints on the DL with left hamstring issues, said anti-inflammatory medication has helped, and he could have the surgery in the offseason. Manager Joe Maddon cited Percival's pain tolerance as a big reason for his quicker return and was on board with the decision to skip surgery once he made sure Percival wouldn't risk injuring himself further.

Maddon acknowledged that Percival's usage could be limited if he needed more rest between outings.

FLOYD ON UPTON: CF B.J. Upton may have quietly left the clubhouse after Monday night's game.

But after another Upton baserunning lapse took the talk away from a Rays victory for the third time in three weeks, an admittedly "bothered" veteran DH Cliff Floyd stepped in and said it's up to the players, specifically himself, to "stay on" Upton.

In the fourth inning, Upton hit a liner off the leftfield wall, but after coasting to first and not racing to second, he was tagged out by Angels 1B Mark Teixeira, who chased him down from behind. Upton had been pulled from Friday's game and benched Saturday for a lack of hustle.

Floyd said he believes Upton will be one of the "better players to play this game" and doesn't want him to get tagged with an unfortunate label.

"You don't want anybody looking at you like you don't really want it, that you have all the ability in the world but you don't want it," Floyd said. "That's not who he's about. … He's a great teammate; he cares about everyone else in here. Just once in a while he gets caught up in I don't know what it is, but we're gonna get to the bottom of it and keep this thing moving. … I really believe you won't ever see that again. …

"I'm on him as hard as you're gonna be on him, and I'm not going to lay off until I quit the game. If it takes me to stay on him 24 hours a day. … I'm gonna stay on him. Because it's a shame to get labeled as a guy like that when that's not who he's about."

LONGORIA ON TRACK: Rookie 3B Evan Longoria said his fractured right wrist is feeling better, but it's still in a splint and will be re-evaluated Friday with another X-ray. Although Longoria didn't give a targeted return date — "they say probably two weeks" — it appears the Rays' prediction of Sept. 1 is possible.

Longoria, put on the disabled list Aug. 11, said adrenaline was a big reason he didn't feel as much pain when he suffered the injury. But he has since experienced some soreness.

MISCELLANY: LHP David Price, the 2007 No. 1 pick, struggled with his control in his second start with Triple-A Durham, walking four, striking out three and giving up three runs, two earned, and five hits in five innings. Price got a no-decision and is 0-1, 5.00 with the Bulls. … RHP Al Reyes declined an outright assignment to Durham and was granted his release.

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

Rays closer Percival to avoid surgery, return soon 08/18/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 12:27am]

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