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Tampa Bay Rays' Akinori Iwamura to begin rehab Friday, expected to return to majors in early September

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Rays say they haven't sorted out exactly what they'll do when 2B Akinori Iwamura returns from his left knee injury to active duty.

But they do have a better idea of the when, setting up a schedule for him to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham on Friday designed to have him ready (conveniently) just about in time for the Sept. 1 roster expansion.

Iwamura, who was injured May 24, will alternate between second base and DH during a 15-game stretch that ends Aug. 28, then be re-evaluated. He has been impressive in workouts following the June 22 surgery, saying he is pain-free and should be up to game speed shortly and is confident he'll play again this season.

"My first concern is to get back with the team as soon as possible," he said through interpreter Bori Uchibori. "I'd like to come back the end of this month or sometime this month if it's possible."

The Rays want him to focus on playing and completing his recovery and told him not be concerned with the calendar.

"Of course we'd love to have him back, but he has not played in a while, he's going through spring training again," manager Joe Maddon said. He told Iwamura, "Your body is going to tell us, and yourself, exactly when you're going to be ready again. Just go out and play and see how you feel."

GETAWAY BLUES: The Rays' road record this season has been part of their problem, as the differential between their 25-34, .424 road mark and their home record of 36-18, .667 was the second largest in the majors. (The Tigers are worse.)

The difference isn't exactly night and day, but they are better at night on the road (17-22, .436) than during the day (8-12, .400).

The larger concern — and a source of some mystery for Maddon — is their performance in the final game of road series. The Rays are 6-13 in those games, 19-21 in other road games.

"We've just got to do better," Maddon said. "I don't have a real good reason for it."

HISTORICAL DEFEAT: The Rays lost Monday night's back-and-forth game, and the battle for history that went with it.

The deciding run in the 8-7 Angels victory came when Vladimir Guerrero hit his 400th career home run off reliever Russ Springer in the seventh. Jason Bartlett needed just a single in his eighth-inning at-bat to become the first Rays player to hit for the cycle but struck out looking.

MISCELLANY: Maddon plans to give struggling B.J. Upton today off, with Gabe Kapler in center, and to start Dioner Navarro behind the plate. … RHP Chad Bradford (back) threw a 1-2-3 inning, and got the win, Tuesday in the first of back-to-back rehab appearances for Class A Charlotte. OF Fernando Perez (left wrist) played center and went 1-for-3 with a walk. … Evan Longoria guested Tuesday on ESPN's Jim Rome is Burning.

Tampa Bay Rays' Akinori Iwamura to begin rehab Friday, expected to return to majors in early September 08/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 6:48am]
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