ST. PETERSBURG — As expected, closer Troy Percival landed on the 15-day disabled list due to his left hamstring strain.
What was somewhat surprising was what the Rays did to take his place, calling up RHP Mitch Talbot from Triple-A Durham and planning to move RHP Jason Hammel into a more significant bullpen role.
Talbot, 24, was 7-6 with a 4.41 ERA in 17 starts for the Bulls. He will make his major-league debut in long relief, with Hammel moving into setup duty and Gary Glover getting more responsibility in the revamped bullpen.
"Everybody gets bumped up a little bit,'' manager Joe Maddon said.
Percival was removed from Monday's game when it became apparent the hamstring was again a problem. He was on the DL May 29-June 13 with the same problem and admitted it has bothered him since spring training and isn't getting better: "We're fighting an uphill battle. We can only tape it so tight." He now will have three extra days' rest during the All-Star break and return shortly after.
"We don't think it's significant to the point where it will be a long-term deal, but we just want to get it right,'' Maddon said.
With Percival out, the Rays will return to a closer-by-committee format, with Dan Wheeler, Trever Miller, Grant Balfour and J.P. Howell all candidates to get the final out. Balfour did so Tuesday, picking up his second save of the season.
"It's just the way it is and we just have to try to make it work somehow,'' Maddon said. "But I do have a lot of confidence in a lot of different guys to get the last out.''
With RHP Al Reyes potentially coming off the DL early next week, the Rays appear to have opted for a short-term replacement. RHP Scott Dohmann, who had a 2.25 ERA and eight saves at Durham, was a candidate, but would have had to be re-added to the 40-man roster.
Maddon said reports on Talbot, acquired from Houston in the July 2006 Aubrey Huff trade, were very good.
CATCH THE FEVER: TV ratings for Monday's game were the highest in franchise history, including a peak rating of 12.8 and 20 share at 10 p.m. that made it the most watched show in the Tampa Bay market. The combined 271,000 homes in the Tampa Bay and Orlando markets was also a record.
STARRY EYES: Maddon has been suggesting a trio of Rays for All-Star selection in C Dioner Navarro and LHPs Howell and Scott Kazmir. Expecting to chat today with Boston/AL manager Terry Francona, Maddon planned to add a fourth, Wheeler. "Danny's been solid, his numbers are fantastic (2-3, 1.88 ERA, two saves), he's been really consistent," Maddon said.
Francona, who gets to name the final five All-Stars on Sunday after the fan and player votes are totaled, said he was aware of how certain Rays were doing but "where that fits into the All-Star Game, I couldn't begin to tell you."
HOME STYLE: The Rays are 11-1 in front of home crowds of 30,000 or more, 13-2 in front of 25,000 or more. … They have won 10 of the past 11 series at home.
MISCELLANY: LHP David Price, the top pick of the 2007 draft, worked six shutout innings in his second start for Double-A Montgomery, striking out five and allowing five hits. … LF Carl Crawford is in an 0-for-17 slump. … 2B Akinori Iwamura rejoined the lineup, and reclaimed the leadoff spot, after completing his three-game suspension. … More than $34,000 was raised in Monday's broadcast auction.