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Rays' Percival may be limping toward DL

Troy Percival gets a pat from Carlos Pena before exiting with a sprained knee from chasing a runner after fielding a bunt.

Associated Press

Troy Percival gets a pat from Carlos Pena before exiting with a sprained knee from chasing a runner after fielding a bunt.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Closer Troy Percival ran hard to make a play during Thursday's game and walked out afterward on crutches, his right knee in a compression brace, and appears headed to the disabled list.

He has what the Rays said is a right knee sprain, and he will be examined today in Texas. From the look and sound of things, he won't be pitching again anytime soon, with Grant Balfour likely taking over as closer.

As for possible replacements, the relievers at Triple-A Durham on the 40-man roster are Juan Salas, who has pitched well (4-5, 2.62 ERA, 53 strikeouts in 442/3 innings), and left-hander Kurt Birkins, who has not (2-2, 7.00, 24 walks in 36 innings). Another option is Scott Dohmann (0-2, 4.01, 18 saves), though the Rays would have to create a roster spot.

Percival, 39, was hurt tagging Mark Ellis after fielding a bunt in the ninth inning.

"I made the play and never felt anything pop, never felt anything," he said. "It was my knee. When I was walking back to the mound I felt some sharp pain going on in there and couldn't put weight on it. … It got worse and worse, and then I came in here, it got worse, and now I've got this brace on and I'm good."

He got off to a bad start, walking leadoff man Jack Hannahan. It got worse when Ellis bunted between first and the mound.

Percival's first bad decision was fielding it in front of charging first baseman Carlos Pena. "Natural instincts," Percival said. "And at that point I can't stop."

His second was making the tag instead of flipping the ball to Akinori Iwamura, who had covered first. The problem was that Ellis curled out of the baseline, and Percival ran harder to reach him. "When I looked I was like, 'No problem,' '' he said. ''I take two steps and get him, and then he bowed out about 6 feet and I tried to go after him, and I should have gone, 'Oh, he's out of the baseline anyway.' ''

Percival, who has been on the disabled list twice with left hamstring problems, said he didn't know how long he might be sidelined.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

Rays' Percival may be limping toward DL 08/14/08 [Last modified: Saturday, August 16, 2008 7:56pm]
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