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Surprising Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Sam Fuld makes All-Star ballot

MINNEAPOLIS — The Legend of Sam Fuld could grow to All-Star proportions.

The Rays' exciting and interesting outfielder, whose early season success has made him one of the hottest topics in baseball, was included on the All-Star ballot released Tuesday.

And Fuld may have been as surprised as anyone.

"It's an honor to be on the ballot in the company of so many great players," he said via text message. "Just three weeks ago I would never have imagined this happening, but it goes to show you how unpredictable baseball can be."

Rays officials have input into which players appear on the ballot, and obviously they had time after the April 8 "retirement" of Manny Ramirez to add Fuld and shift Johnny Damon to the DH position.

3B Evan Longoria, elected to start the previous two years, headlines the other Rays on the ballot, which also includes 1B Dan Johnson, 2B Ben Zobrist, SS Reid Brignac, C John Jaso and OFs Matt Joyce and B.J. Upton. Pitchers and reserves are chosen in a vote of players and by league officials.

Online voting for the July 12 game in Phoenix is under way, and in-stadium balloting will begin at the Trop on Friday.

LONGO SET FOR TUESDAY: Longoria's return from the disabled list is now set for Tuesday, barring any setbacks in the final stages of his recovery from a left oblique strain.

Longoria, who took batting practice in the cage again Tuesday with no issues, will start a short rehab assignment with Double-A Montgomery on Thursday, with a schedule to play in four games over five days and get 12-15 at-bats.

He will bat leadoff and play seven innings in the first three games and get one day off, then play nine innings Monday and rejoin the Rays at home on Tuesday against Toronto.

"Obviously everyone, including myself, is more concerned about fatigues or soreness or the lingering effects of those first couple games as opposed to getting at-bats," Longoria said.

PITCHING IN: Manager Joe Maddon said after Tuesday's postponement that "as of right now we're just bumping everything back" in terms of starting pitchers. So with RHP Wade Davis moving from Tuesday to tonight, that would have RHPs Jeff Niemann, who has been struggling, and Jeremy Hellickson, who was sick before his last start, pitching in Thursday's doubleheader, with the order to be determined.

But then Maddon said something that indicated there could be a change, and didn't want to expound on it: "It's not going to be dramatic, it's just something we may choose to do a little bit differently with the guys that are available to pitch on that day."

DH BLUES: Not only are the Rays not pleased with Tuesday's game being made up as a day-night doubleheader on Thursday, they aren't happy with what they're hearing about the re-scheduling of the April 13 rainout in Boston.

Though both teams are off Aug. 15 — with the Rays coming from New York and the Sox from Seattle — the Sox are pushing a plan to play a doubleheader on Aug. 16, with a previously scheduled 1:35 game on Aug. 17.

"We're going to possibly play three games in a 24-hour span, which is unbelievable," said Longoria, the Rays player rep. "I don't know how that could even be okay by Major League Baseball."

HONORED: RHP James Shields said he was truly honored to win the American League player of the week award after pitching back-to-back complete games. "It's nice," he said. "Anytime you get player of the week in the AL it's pretty special. There's a lot of guys who had some really good games."

MISCELLANY: INF Elliot Johnson was sick Tuesday and Maddon wasn't sure if he would have been able to play, or what his status will be for tonight. … Dan Johnson said the red welt that appeared on his forehead after Sunday's game in Toronto apparently was the result of a spider bite and was gone by that evening. … Tonight's game is moved to Fox Sports Florida due to the Lightning game.

Surprising Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Sam Fuld makes All-Star ballot

04/27/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 11:37am]
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