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Rays, Red Sox say problems are behind them

The Rays' Yunel Escobar (far right) is held back from the Boston Red Sox's Jonny Gomes (far left) as Rays third base coach Tom Foley and catcher Jose Molina stand in the middle and the benches clear during a game earlier this month at Tropicana Field. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times] 


The Rays' Yunel Escobar (far right) is held back from the Boston Red Sox's Jonny Gomes (far left) as Rays third base coach Tom Foley and catcher Jose Molina stand in the middle and the benches clear during a game earlier this month at Tropicana Field. [DIRK SHADD | Times]

There were plenty of strong words and a few shoves shared in the Rays' last meeting with the Red Sox on Sunday, when both benches emptied onto the Tropicana Field turf.

But as the two rivals open a three-game series at Fenway Park tonight, neither side expects any carryover from the controversy.

"As far as we're concerned, it's over with," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It's time to play baseball. Let's not worry about all this goofy little trivial (stuff) that means nothing."

"Total non-issue now," Red Sox OF Jonny Gomes said.

Gomes and two Rays — SS Yunel Escobar and INF Sean Rodriguez — were ejected from the incident, which started when Escobar took third base on defensive indifference with the Rays up five runs in the seventh. Escobar, pointing out Red Sox OF Jacoby Ellsbury did the same thing up six in the eighth inning during the playoffs, got caught up in the moment, exchanging barbs with the Boston dugout. That's when Gomes came in from leftfield to get involved.

Gomes said Thursday he thinks Escobar went out of his way to start something, but considers the matter in the past. With the Rays and Red Sox battling to stay out of the AL East cellar, "we have to worry about winning games," he said. And Gomes is not worried about getting hit.

"If they hit me I'm not going to charge," Gomes said. "I'll be fine. I'm happy getting to first base. If they want to send a message, please let it be me."

ZO BACK: With 2B Ben Zobrist expected to be activated from the disabled list today, the Rays sent INF Cole Figueroa to Triple-A Durham.

Zobrist has been out since dislocating his left thumb on May 14 in Seattle. He played a rehab game Wednesday for the Class A Stone Crabs and was scheduled to play again Thursday, but the Rays changed plans and have him headed to Boston.

In seven games Figueroa went 3-for-12, with a walkoff double Friday, in his first stint in the major leagues.

CATCHING ON: Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said C Jose Molina has no residual issues from getting hit in the mask with a foul tip Wednesday and should be fine.

DRAFT BREEZE: With a week to go until the start of baseball's draft, Rays scouts and officials are convening in St. Petersburg feeling they are extremely well prepared for anything that could happen before they make the 20th pick Thursday while admitting there is no way to know what will.

"We have some idea what might be there," scouting director R.J. Harrison said, "but ... it's unpredictable and our experience has been over the last few years that the best thing you can do is just be prepared as well as you can and react when the time comes."

Harrison said the draft class is solid overall, probably deeper in high school pitchers than position players, and "a pretty good crop" of college pitchers and some college position players "that we're fairly intrigued by."

The Rays lined up their draft board Wednesday and now will work on adjusting and anticipating what teams ahead of them may do, which, as they've learned in recent years, can be surprising.

"There's been situations where things have blown up right ahead of you and then there's situations where guys are coming down to you that you didn't think were going to be there," Harrison said. "You try to prepare yourself for everything and just be ready, and that process is getting ready to start now."

After picking 20th, the Rays' next selections are 60th, 72nd, 96th and 127th. The draft continues for 50 rounds and three days.

Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.

Rays, Red Sox say problems are behind them 05/29/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 29, 2014 9:52pm]

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