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Rays puzzled by long delay in calling Yankees game

NEW YORK — The steady rain and ominous radar made it obvious by late afternoon that Friday's game wasn't going to be played, but the Rays didn't get official word until about 8:30 p.m.

As a result, they today — weather permitting — will play a split doubleheader, with games at 1:05 and 7:05, so the Yankees can accommodate two soldout crowds during the final home-stand at Yankee Stadium.

"I think it should have been banged a couple hours ago," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I don't know all the mechanics to it, but if you know you're going to play two games (today) you'd like our guys to get back and get some rest, and I know it's even more difficult for the Yankees having to drive to their homes or wherever. So that part of it was very inconvenient."

It was not clear what caused the extended delay in calling the game, which was to be shown nationally by ESPN. At this time of the season, MLB is supposed to take charge rather than the home team, but there was talk that the decision was complicated by what the Mets, also at home, were doing.

"I think we expect that a little bit more in the minor leagues; I think sometimes as major-league players we expect them to make a decision right away," Rays player rep Evan Longoria said. "I know they really want to get the fans in here and make some money with concessions and stuff. That's a little bit difficult on us, kind of sitting around and having to keep our minds ready and our bodies ready."

James Shields and Mike Mussina will work the day game as scheduled; Friday starters Matt Garza and Sidney Ponson will work the night game.

ALMIGHTY EVAN: Longoria is expected to be in the lineup for today's first game, making his long-awaited return from an Aug. 7 fractured right wrist. "It's good to be back," Longoria said. "I'm healthy as can be."

Longoria, who led the team in homers and RBIs at the time, had hoped to face live pitching before returning but instead will step in against Mussina.

"It's probably not going to be the most comfortable feeling in the world, and I understand that," Longoria said. "But there's got to be a time to get my feet back wet again, and this is perfect."

UPTON STILL DOWN: CF B.J. Upton, sidelined Monday by a strained left quads, is still sore and won't play. He is hoping to return to the lineup Monday.

HEADS UP: The Rays lost a Friday coin flip and would have to go to Fenway Park if a one-game playoff is needed to break a tie for the AL East championship, though the game would only be played if the losing team was not going to be the wild card.

Executive VP Andrew Friedman called tails, joking that he did "a thorough analysis" and that after senior VP Gerry Hunsicker, who'd lost several when with Houston, recommended heads, he went with tails. Principal owner Stuart Sternberg said he actually made the call.

BULLS RUN: Triple-A Durham's season ended with a 20-2 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) in the fourth game of the International League Governor's Cup championship.

PERCY'S "MYSTERY" QUOTE: There was a lot of Internet buzz after Rays reliever Troy Percival looked on TV to be pointing at and calling teammate Carlos Pena a bad word before leaving Wednesday's game hurt.

Percival said Friday he didn't recall doing so, but Pena, after some thought, recalled the situation. He said Percival did use the bad word, but in the context of the runner on first, who represented the tying run, something like "That (bad word) doesn't score."

MISCELLANY: SS Jason Bartlett was not in Friday's lineup for what Maddon said was just an extra day of rest. … INF Joel Guzman, designated for assignment Tuesday, cleared waivers and was outrighted back to Triple-A Durham.

Rays puzzled by long delay in calling Yankees game 09/12/08 [Last modified: Sunday, September 14, 2008 7:43am]

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