Saturday, June 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays thin at shortstop for a few days

DENVER — The Rays are suddenly shorthanded at shortstop.

Yunel Escobar is expected to be sidelined until at least Wednesday with a bruised left hand, and Ben Zobrist missed Sunday's 8-3 victory and will be out again tonight following the death of his grandmother.

Sean Rodriguez, who was the opening-day shortstop in 2012, took over, with 3B Evan Longoria likely next in line, if needed, and Ryan Roberts after that.

The Rays could have replaced Zobrist by placing him on MLB's bereavement list, but that requires a minimum three-day stay. So in essence, they decided it was worth playing a man short Sunday (and under National League rules) and again tonight in order to have Zobrist available Tuesday's game.

"We'd rather him back one day sooner on the back side," manager Joe Maddon said. "I think we have enough guys."

Potential replacements if they had put Zobrist on the list likely would have been limited to players on the 40-man roster. So the options, with top SS Hak-Ju Lee out with a knee injury, would have included Tim Beckham if they wanted a middle infielder, but also right-handed hitters C/1B Chris Gimenez and OF Brandon Guyer since the Rays are facing lefty starters tonight and Tuesday.

Maddon questioned the minimum three-day stay on the bereavement list in that it punishes a team for the player not staying away longer.

"That makes no sense," he said. "I think that thinking is actually reversed."

Escobar's left hand, hit by a pitch Saturday, was sore and swollen Sunday. "He didn't sleep well (Saturday night), the hand was banging on him a little bit, but he's in good spirits," Maddon said. "(Trainer Ron Porterfield) thinks maybe three days, something like that."

NO-NO FOR BULLS: RHP Jake Odorizzi worked seven innings, and relievers Frank De Los Santos, Kirby Yates and Jeff Beliveau finished as Triple-A Durham no-hit Pawtucket (Red Sox) in a 2-1 win Sunday.

"Just kind of one of those days where everything goes your way," Odorizzi said from the Providence, R.I., airport. Included was a ninth-inning catch at the wall by CF Rich Thompson. "That was that play you see in every no-hitter," Odorizzi said.

Odorizzi, who threw eight innings in a combined no-hitter in Class A in 2010, said there was some discussion of starting the eighth since he had thrown only 95 pitches, but the coaches decided against it since he would only be allowed to go to 110.

UP-AND-DOWN: RHP Jeremy Hellickson starts tonight seeking to build consistency: "There was a three-game stretch there where I felt as good as I've ever have, and these last two games have been awful, pretty terrible. I've got to make better pitches."

CHANGE-UP: Saturday's postgame decision to change an error on Zobrist, who charged a slowly hit ball and bounced his throw, to a hit added five earned runs to LHP David Price's line, hiking his ERA from 5.24 to 6.25. Coors Field official scorer Dave Plati said after watching replays that he believed Zobrist "double-clutching" as he tried to get the ball out of his glove created a split-second delay that would have allowed Michael Cuddyer to be safe, and thus not an error. Plati said the Rays are appealing the change to MLB.

MISCELLANY: This was the Rays' first series win in four trips to Coors Field. … Sunday was the Rays' first two-error game of the season. … INF Kelly Johnson said in facing his former Jays teammates he is "definitely invested to go out and play hard and try to do everything I can to win." … There was cake in the clubhouse after Saturday's game to mark RHP Fernando Rodney reaching the 10-year service time mark, which vests him fully in the pension plan.

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