Rays' Yunel Escobar likely out for season with knee injury

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Yunel Escobar #11 of the Tampa Bay Rays lays at home plate being checked out by the medical staff after being tagged out by Christian Vazquez #55 in the third inning during the game at Fenway Park on September 23, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) 477590441
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 23: Yunel Escobar #11 of the Tampa Bay Rays lays at home plate being checked out by the medical staff after being tagged out by Christian Vazquez #55 in the third inning during the game at Fenway Park on September 23, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) 477590441
Published September 24 2014
Updated September 24 2014

BOSTON — A left knee sprain on an awkward play to avoid a collision at home plate has likely ended SS Yunel Escobar's season.

The Rays don't believe the injury is serious but will send Escobar for an MRI exam soon and seem likely to shut him down regardless.

"You probably won't see him the rest of the season, honestly,'' manager Joe Maddon said. "I think it's severe enough that even during the (bulk of the) regular season he would not play the rest of this week.''

Escobar was trying to score from second on a single. When the throw beat him, he tried to maneuver around C Christian Vazquez, based on a rule implemented this season regarding collisions, and ended up injuring his knee.

"Very awkward maneuver,'' Maddon said. "The rule that's supposed to be in place to protect the catcher that can impact negatively the baserunner — poom, that's what happened. … I've told our guys before, if the catcher's in the way, just hit him. That's the way the rule is designed. … I don't want to see our baserunners getting hurt because of a rule change that I really don't agree with.''

SPEED LIMITS: Maddon had a quick reply to Major League Baseball's newly formed committee tasked with improving the pace of games:

Slow down.

Maddon has said repeatedly that he doesn't consider length of game to be a deterrent in making games more appealing to fans and considers the issue to be media generated.

"I just don't get it,'' Maddon said. "To make the game 15 minutes quicker and think that's going to make it more attractive, I don't understand that.''

The Rays are baseball's most egregious violators, top the list of playing the slowest games at an average of 3 hours, 12 minutes, 40 seconds, one of 17 teams in excess of three hours.

Among suggestions to improve the pace is adding a clock, either to enforce time limits between pitches or innings.

Maddon, naturally, is not a fan: "To put a clock out there is really an abhorrent thought.''

NO JAKING: RHP Jake Odorizzi tonight makes his final start of a first full major-league season that saw him make a significant turnaround after a rough start due primarily to improved pitch selection.

"His stuff has been pretty much the same, utilization of stuff has gotten better," Maddon said. "Confidence is definitely on the rise. Definitely you can see this guy as being a solid major-league starter for years to come. Everything has gotten better."

FRANK TALK: Ben Zobrist wasn't supposed to be in the lineup Tuesday as a result of his 4-for-36 career numbers against Boston RHP Clay Buchholz. But Kevin Kiermaier was ill — "I advised chicken soup," Maddon said — so Zobrist started in his place in center and got three hits, including a two-run double in the eighth inning that gave the Rays the lead.

Zobrist said he wasn't aware of the plan to be off and prepared as he normally would have pregame.

"Fortunately KK had the vision of becoming ill and that put Zo back in the lineup,'' Maddon joked. "Better manager than me.''

MISCELLANY: The five-run eighth inning was the Rays' biggest outburst since they scored five in the fifth on July 22. … Wil Myers made three impressive running catches in rightfield. … The rotation for the final series was officially set with RHPs Chris Archer, Alex Colome and Alex Cobb. … Myers' batting practice foul ball struck a fan on the side of the head; she was said to be okay, and Myers went over to check and gave her a bat. … The weekend "Shirts Off Our Backs" fundraiser raised more than $65,000 for the Rays Baseball Foundation.

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