Friday, May 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Yunel Escobar says he feels fine physically, mentally

ST. PETERSBURG — SS Yunel Escobar said his recent stretch of rough play and errant throws is not the product of anything being wrong. Neither his arm is sore nor his feelings further bruised from last week's waiver claim.

"I feel great, I'm 100 percent," Escobar said, with home clubhouse manager Jose Fernandez interpreting. "I just think that's just part of the game, things I can't control right now. But I'm okay, I'm not hurt or anything."

Escobar — who made three throwing errors in the previous two games — was out of the lineup Saturday. But manager Joe Maddon said it was not punitive, he was looking to rest him as the Rays are in a stretch of 20 games in 20 days.

Maddon, too, is puzzled by Escobar's recent miscues, which included another errant throw Tuesday that wasn't charged an error (Maddon said it was more RHP Grant Balfour's fault for not covering first).

"I don't have a solid reason because he normally throws well," Maddon said.

Maddon was concerned enough when news of a waiver claim by Oakland leaked last Sunday that he called Escobar into his office Monday to assure him he wouldn't be traded. He acknowledged then that Escobar is quite emotional, and there could be a residual impact.

"That affected me a little bit because I plan to be here for years to come and when I found out that was going on, that really affected me," Escobar said. "But that doesn't affect me anymore. I'm just coming to the field trying to play hard every day. Things are not working out right now. That's what it is."

Maddon said he didn't think that was a lingering issue but wasn't sure.

Escobar has made 15 errors, more than twice his total from last season, along with a series of misplays and plays not made. After his errant throw eluded RHP Chris Archer covering first Friday, Escobar raised his arms as if to question why Archer didn't make the play.

JENNINGS OKAY: With an MRI exam on CF Desmond Jennings' sore left knee showing no major damage, Maddon said a return to the lineup is imminent, with the current diagnosis "a bad bruise." Jennings was scratched from Friday's lineup moments before game time and was not in Saturday's lineup, and he likely won't start today.

"His knee is a little bit sore," Maddon said. "The fact that he's been cleared medically, it's just a matter of what he can tolerate."

HELP COMING: Maddon said OF David DeJesus (left hand fracture) will be activated off the disabled list Monday with the rosters expanding; he was 0-for-3 in a rehab game for Class A Charlotte that concluded Saturday. Three-four others will be called up, including C Curt Casali, RHP Brandon Gomes and at least one other reliever, with RHP Steve Geltz, LHP Adam Liberatore and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser among the possibilities. The Rays will make additional callups after Triple-A Durham is done in the playoffs.

MINOR MATTERS: Rookie-level Prince­ton (W. Va.) makes its first playoff appearance since 1998 today, opening a three-game series with Danville (Braves). … Class A Bowling Green was rained out as it battles for a Midwest League playoff spot; INF Kean Wong was named a postseason All-Star. … Short-season Class A Hudson Valley is trying to clinch homefield advantage throughout the NY-Penn League playoffs. … Durham opens the International League playoffs Wednesday.

MISCELLANY: First pitch was delayed 12 minutes as some lights at the Trop were knocked out due to what the team said was a lightning strike at the 16th Street substation. … The Rays have played 33 shutouts (18 wins, 15 losses). … C Ryan Hanigan had hit first multihit game since June 21. … Maddon said he had no problem with Boston's Daniel Nava stealing third with a five-run lead Friday; the Sox were upset in May when Escobar did the same.

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