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Rays' Maddon miffed over plunking of Navarro

Dropping down: Outfielder B.J. Upton hit seventh, instead of his customary third, in the order and went 1-for-3 with a single, walk and strikeout.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

Dropping down: Outfielder B.J. Upton hit seventh, instead of his customary third, in the order and went 1-for-3 with a single, walk and strikeout.

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Joe Maddon took issue with the Blue Jays plunking C Dioner Navarro with a pitch in the eighth inning Saturday.

It wasn't so much that Jays reliever Brandon League hit Navarro. It was the perceived reason why.

League was ejected by plate umpire Mike DiMuro after hitting Navarro in the leg with the first pitch. Jays manager Cito Gaston chalked it up to League being "wild," but Maddon said based on the rumblings of one of the Jays players, it stemmed from Navarro bunting for a single in the sixth with the Rays up 5-0.

"I really disagree with what they did," Maddon said. "We'll stop trying to score runs when they stop trying."

Maddon pointed to how the Jays scored four runs in the ninth and got the tying run to the plate. Navarro said afterward that the Rays were just trying to score runs off All-Star Roy Halladay.

"Too many times people have had things passed down through legend or lore in regard to the appropriate or inappropriate things to do," Maddon said. "Maybe in 1922, you wouldn't (bunt) because nobody is going to hit a home run. But in the year 2008, people hit home runs. And you could see how they came back. Once again, in baseball, for me, there are moments when people definitely mentally move at a glacier pace, and they really have to get beyond it. That's what I think about that situation. And it stunk."

SWITCHING IT UP: In an attempt to take some pressure off CF B.J. Upton, Maddon moved him down in the batting order, from third to seventh.

Although Upton entered the game with a team-high .380 on-base percentage, his recent struggles at the plate — 8-for-42 (.190) in his past 11 games — prompted the temporary switch.

"He's been trying to work on some new things, and I know it's going to work," Maddon said. "But right now I just think he's applying way too much on himself."

Upton went 1-for-3 with a single and a walk.

"It's his call," Upton said. "Obviously, I'm not swinging the bat well right now. Just not hitting the ball, period. That's it."

MEDICAL MATTERS: Closer Troy Percival (left hamstring strain) is getting closer to a return, saying the evaluation from Dr. Koco Eaton on Friday went well; so did Percival's 10-pitch session Saturday, which included him fielding several grounders and covering first base without limping.

Maddon said SS Jason Bartlett (sprained right knee) will run the bases Monday or Tuesday before getting re-evaluated. Although Maddon said a rehab assignment for Bartlett was possible, it's not definite.

GOMES GEARs UP: With the Rays set to face four straight left-handed pitchers, OF Jonny Gomes could get more at-bats. Gomes, who has started 17 of the past 56 games, said he's learning how to best approach his platoon role, and Maddon raved about how the 27-year-old has been a team-first guy.

But Gomes is still trying to find his way at the plate. A recent 11-for-82 (.134) skid dropped his average to .185. Gomes has tried to make an impact with each start, and it has showed, as his last three hits have been home runs. But 13 of his past 34 at-bats have been strikeouts.

"You don't feel more pressure, but you want to do good yourself; since you don't have tomorrow, you want to do good right now," Gomes said. "So you catch yourself swinging at pitches out of the zone."

MISCELLANY: The Rays are 14-1 this year at home in front of 30,000-plus and 16-2 in front of 25,000-plus. … The Rays defeated Halladay twice in one season for the first time in club history. … The Rays bullpen is 6-for-6 in save opportunities since Percival's injury June 30.

Rays' Maddon miffed over plunking of Navarro 07/19/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 3:35pm]

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