NEW YORK — Monday, it looked as if RHP Jesse Crain would make his long-awaited Rays debut with the chance to pitch meaningful innings over the final week and potentially into the playoffs.
Now, manager Joe Maddon said, there is a chance Crain won't pitch at all for the Rays.
"It's possible he does not; I don't deny that," Maddon said Thursday. "But it's also possible that he can."
Since warming up Monday and not being used as the game situation changed, Crain has been unavailable the past three nights because of recurring issues with his shoulder, which had sidelined him since late June. The Rays acquired him in a July 29 trade.
"Nothing better, nothing worse, it's just not at that point where he feels comfortable going out there," Maddon said. "He's worked so hard to get to this point, but we're not ready to test it."
Maddon said it is a day-to-day situation and Crain "just does not feel 100 percent right in the finishing of throwing the baseball. That's it. It's not awful, it's not terrible, and so we've just got to stay with it. By (tonight against the Blue Jays) he could feel really good about it and we might actually use him in the game."
Crain could be eligible for postseason play if he doesn't appear in a regular-season game, but the Rays might not feel comfortable using him. He was not available before Thursday's 4-0 win over the Yankees.
ON SECOND THOUGHT: SS Yunel Escobar was in the original lineup but scratched after he felt "just a little bit sore" testing his left ankle in pregame drills. Maddon said they felt better keeping Escobar, injured in Tuesday's game, available for late-inning duty, and that was how it worked. He came on in the seventh to solidify the defense. Ben Zobrist started at shortstop, and Sean Rodriguez made his first start of the season at second.
Injury updates: CF Desmond Jennings was out of the lineup for a fourth straight game because of a mild left hamstring strain but was available to pinch-hit. "He did a little bit more (in pregame drills), and he felt a little bit better, but there's no reason to push it," Maddon said. … C Jose Lobaton, who left Tuesday's game with a bruised right elbow, returned to the lineup.
LOOKING YOUNG: Delmon Young was the DH against a right-hander for the second straight game, and he homered in the seventh. Maddon said it was more a product of the matchups and Jennings' absence than a change in philosophy to use Young regularly but did note how well he has been doing.
"He's had a lot of good at-bats," Maddon said. "He's swinging the bat well. Delmon doesn't know right from left when he's going good. He's always been that guy to drive in runs, and he's not afraid, I know that."
THRILL HILL: RHP Jeremy Hellickson has struggled much of this season, but the Rays are putting Game 160 in his hands tonight. "It's nice that they have confidence in me to go out there," he said. "I haven't thrown like I'm capable of throwing, so it's nice they're still running me out there. I still feel like I can be the pitcher I have been." LHP Enny Romero, who made an impressive debut Sunday, will be available in relief if Hellickson falters.
MISCELLANY: The Rays logged their AL-leading 17th shutout and recorded their first sweep of three or more games at Yankee Stadium. … 3B Evan Longoria is two homers shy of Carlos Peña's franchise record (163). … Wednesday's game drew a 7.9 rating on Sun Sports, the second-highest-rated Rays game of the season. It outdrew CBS's Survivor and ABC's Modern Family in the Tampa Bay market. … RHP J.D. Martin, designated for assignment Monday, cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple A but is expected to become a minor-league free agent.