Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Reliever J.P. Howell struggling in his return to Tampa Bay Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays reliever J.P. Howell feels good physically after missing 2010 and the first 44 games of this season recovering from surgery to repair a torn left labrum.

But it's going to take more than a few appearances for him to shoulder the pressure of being in sticky situations again.

Howell allowed four runs, three unearned, without retiring a batter in the eighth inning of Saturday's 7-3 loss to the Indians.

"Everything just seems a little choppy when it's going rough,'' Howell said. "You never feel smooth in this kind of situation with me right now. But at the same time, I've got to keep swinging and things will happen.''

With the Rays trailing 3-2, Howell replaced starter James Shields and yielded a two-strike single to Indians CF Michael Brantley. But he got SS Asdrubal Cabrera to ground into what looked like a double play, but 2B Ben Zobrist misplayed the ball into an error.

Howell then hit RF Shin-Soo Choo with a pitch, and pinch-hitter Shelley Duncan singled off the leftfield wall to score two.

In three games, after pitching 21/3 innings, Howell has an ERA of 11.57.

"I'm getting whacked in the face a little bit in baseball, so I've got to stick with it and punch back in the days to come,'' he said. "At this point, I'm learning a lot about getting back into it. It's like if it doesn't happen, I find myself taking a step back instead of a step forward. The more situations you get into, you'll get back in it.''

Manager Joe Maddon said he is confident Howell will improve with each outing. "I asked him afterward, and he said he felt really good,'' Maddon said. "That's what I wanted to hear, that he felt good. That he repeated well. He probably deserved a better fate, but he's fine.''

NIEMANN ON THE MEND: The Rays miss RHP Jeff Niemann, who has been on the disabled list since May 6 with a lower back strain. But there's reason to believe he could return soon.

Niemann is scheduled to throw a 45-pitch simulated game Monday, and although Maddon has no timetable for his return, his progress is encouraging. Friday, Niemann threw a bullpen session, and he did fielding drills before Saturday's game.

"Then after that (Monday) we'll start building him up by going out on rehab,'' Maddon said. "He may be able to do that sooner because the injury was a back and not an arm injury, so you can be a little more aggressive with the rehab.''

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Maddon, on the Rays averaging three runs per game at home, worst in the AL and 28th in the majors: "We needed to score more runs. We made it difficult on ourselves again (Saturday). I love the fight. We just have to do a better job of putting more runs at home, that's very simply it. Because the pitching was definitely good enough to win (Saturday).''

MISCELLANY: Shields recorded his major-league-leading sixth pickoff, of Cabrera off third base after a first-inning RBI triple. … DH Johnny Damon has reached base in his past 22 games, the second-longest streak for the Rays this season. … CF B.J. Upton ended a streak of six consecutive strikeouts when he grounded out to 3B Jack Hannahan to start the sixth. … The Long Haul Bombers, a group of softball home run hitters from Albertville, Minn., will participate in a home run derby before today's game, one of 13 stops on their tour this year.

Reliever J.P. Howell struggling in his return to Tampa Bay Rays 05/28/11 [Last modified: Sunday, May 29, 2011 12:20am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charge in Florida

    Public Safety

    Tiger Woods has been arrested on a drunken driving charge in Palm Beach County, various media outlets are reporting.

    Tiger Woods, shown in this Feb. 2 file photo, has been arrested in Florida on a DUI charge. Wire photo

  2. Five cool things to do when it's hot outside

    Outdoors

    Summer is not officially here, but it may as well be. School is out, vacations are coming, and it's time to enjoy the outdoors. Don't buy the argument that summer in Florida is too hot to get outside. There is plenty to do, and we'll prove it. Here are five cool things to do outdoors during another hot summer.

    Rainbow Springs State Park is a registered natural landmark. Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon is one several state parks with natural swimming holes in Florida. (Octavio Jones | Times)
  3. Rays morning after: A lot that went into a marathon win

    Blogs

    Rays manager Kevin Cash had a simple strategy when Fox Sports Sun's Alex Corddry asked him how the team would move on from Sunday's marathon win and get ready to face the Rangers tonight in Texas:

    Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays celebrates as teammate Michael Martinez slides safely into home plate to score a run against the Minnesota Twins during the 14th inning.
  4. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  5. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.