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Rays try to minimize impact on pitching staff

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays won't know the full impact of the suspensions handed down for a few days.

By having James Shields (six games) and Jonny Gomes (five games) appeal their suspensions, which were to begin Friday, the Rays bought some time to try to mitigate the impact, especially on the rotation, where Shields and Edwin Jackson (five games) are each scheduled to miss a start.

Under one scenario they are considering, Shields will make his next start as scheduled Tuesday at Anaheim, then drop his appeal and serve his suspension. Under another, he could start Sunday or Monday, because he threw only 27 pitches Thursday.

With two upcoming off days in a five-day period, Thursday and June 16, the Rays are weighing the impact on their bullpen if they have to use Jason Hammel as a spot starter.

"Pitchingwise we're looking at this whole thing to see what it looks like and try to figure out the best way to do it," manager Joe Maddon said.

The timing of the position player suspensions can be more easily covered. Gomes is set to serve his time, and once he does, Carl Crawford and Akinori Iwamura will do theirs.

"The other team is going to be on a power play," Maddon said. "We're going to play one short."

More brawl: Shields said Boston's Coco Crisp had no room to complain about what happened: "If he wants to come out and charge (the mound), he's got to feel the wrath. That's just bottom line. If he wants to go cry about it, that's fine." … The only injuries the Rays appeared to sustain in the brawl were coach Tom Foley's sore right pinkie finger and a scrape on Shields' left elbow. … The 12 batters hit by pitches in Rays-Red Sox games are more than between any two other teams this season.

In other news: B.J. Upton ended a 33-game homerless streak. … RHP Troy Percival threw a 28-pitch bullpen session and said his strained left hamstring and arm felt great, and he will be ready when eligible June 13. … 1B Carlos Pena (fractured left index finger) won't be ready when eligible to come off the DL on June 19, but Maddon expects it to be "minimal time" after that. … 3B Evan Longoria is one of six finalists for the MLB Clutch Performer of the Month award; vote online at … OF Rocco Baldelli went 1-for-6 in an extended spring training game and will play again Monday and Wednesday. … Class A Vero Beach RHP Jeremy Hellickson had a perfect game through five innings Thursday but left with a blister.

Rays try to minimize impact on pitching staff 06/06/08 [Last modified: Sunday, June 8, 2008 9:06am]
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