Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays' Maddon bats pitcher Hellickson eighth

ON THE MEND: Left-hander Matt Moore may be a week away from returning to the rotation after an impressive 50-pitch bullpen session.

Getty Images

ON THE MEND: Left-hander Matt Moore may be a week away from returning to the rotation after an impressive 50-pitch bullpen session.

LOS ANGELES — Joe Maddon likes doing things differently, and the Rays manager made another unconventional move Sunday when he batted pitcher Jeremy Hellickson in the No. 8 spot in the lineup rather than the standard No. 9.

Though it had no effect on the game, Maddon had his reasons, having been pondering the move for a while and even consulting recently with Tony La Russa, the legendary manager who used that tactic often.

"You don't do it all the time, you don't want to do it all the time," Maddon said. "I think all the baseball stars have to align in a sense, all the right reasons have to be present."

Primarily, Maddon said he felt it could improve the potency of their lineup. In this case, by batting Wil Myers second, with Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist next, and with the potential for both No. 9 hitter Jason Bourgeois and No. 1 Sean Rodriguez to be on base for him.

"Without Myers hitting there he's not going to get pitched to at all," Maddon said. "I want Myers in the 2-hole to be protected and to get pitched at more often. You want more people feeding into him as opposed to the pitcher."

That didn't work as Myers struck out twice and grounded into a double play, though he did hit a sac fly in the eighth.

Secondarily, that it could actually accelerate the decision — granted, by just one spot — on pinch-hitting for Hellickson. That didn't matter, as Hellickson lasted only three innings.

Hellickson is the second Rays pitcher to bat higher than ninth, as Andy Sonnanstine hit third in May 2009 due to a lineup card mistake, and the fourth American League pitcher since the 1997 advent of interleague play. The others were New York's David Phelps in May 2013 and Kansas City's Zack Greinke in June 2009.

MOORE BETTER: LHP Matt Moore's 50-pitch bullpen session went extremely well, increasing the possibility he will rejoin the rotation by the weekend.

"It would not be any kind of a surprise," pitching coach Jim Hickey said.

Moore, on the DL since July 29 with a sore elbow, threw fastballs at close to game velocity and curves that Hickey said may have been his best of the year.

"I couldn't imagine it feeling better," Moore said. "I've been feeling pretty normal in my games of catch anyways, so I had a sense things were definitely on the upswing. But it's nice to get out there today and hear the ball coming out of my hand and put some serious effort into it and get back to it."

Moore will throw another bullpen session Tuesday or Wednesday, then the Rays will decide if he is ready to return or needs to throw to hitters in either a simulated or minor-league rehab game.

PITCHING IN: RHP Alex Cobb is all but officially set to come off the disabled list Thursday and make his first start since June 15, when he was hit in the head by a line drive. Maddon said they will wait to see Cobb on Tuesday but all they need is a thumbs-up. Or, Maddon said, "I'd prefer two thumbs-up." … Cobb would follow RHP Chris Archer and LHP David Price in the series against the Mariners and return the Rays to a five-man rotation. Maddon said they weren't sure what they would do over the weekend against Toronto, but he did mention starting Hellickson on Friday, which would at least push back struggling RHP Roberto Hernandez's next outing to Saturday. Or, it's possible Moore will return then and bump Hernandez to the bullpen.

MISCELLANY: RHP Kyle Farnsworth, who had been designated for assignment Friday, was released. … Maddon said there was nothing new on injured CF Desmond Jennings (broken finger), who is expected back on or close to his Aug. 19 eligibility date. … Saturday's Dodger Stadium crowd of 52,619 was the largest the Rays played in front of — regular- or postseason — since Sept. 14, 2008, at old Yankee Stadium. … The Rays finished interleague play 12-8.

Rays' Maddon bats pitcher Hellickson eighth 08/11/13 [Last modified: Monday, August 12, 2013 12:25am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting


    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  2. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  3. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  5. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule


    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]