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Tampa Bay Rays' B.J. Upton hit on hand by pitch; injury appears minor

Just as CF B.J. Upton's left shoulder was feeling good, he had a scare Saturday after being struck on the left hand by a pitch in a minor-league exhibition.

The Rays said X-rays were negative. The injury was described as a bone bruise and "not serious" after Upton met with a doctor on Saturday.

He was batting for the second time in a game against Boston's Triple-A team in Port Charlotte when he was struck on the bottom of his left pinkie. He yelled and dropped his bat immediately, according to Dennis Maffezzoli of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, then threw his helmet as he headed to the dugout.

After emerging from the trainer's room with the hand wrapped in ice, Upton first said, "You've got to be kidding," then that he expected to be okay: "It should be all right. No problem."

Upton has been feeling good enough in recovery from offseason surgery that he hoped to play in his first major-league exhibition by the middle of next week, and manager Joe Maddon indicated that was a reasonable plan, though his participation would be limited "like it's the start of his spring training." Even with no serious injury to his hand, it could delay that timetable, making it even less likely Upton will be on the opening day roster.

RAIN DAY: The Rays shuffled their pitching plans after Saturday's game in Fort Lauderdale was rained out, with LHP David Price now starting today's game in Port Charlotte against the Yankees. RHP James Shields, who was to start today, and RHP Andy Sonnanstine, who was to start Saturday, will work in a Triple-A game in Port Charlotte that starts at 11:30 a.m. … Relievers Dan Wheeler and Troy Percival may also pitch in a minor-league game. … Saturday's game was called off after heavy late-morning rains soaked the field and flooded the Rays dugout, which had nearly a foot of standing water.

HUFF DADDY: As many bad nights as Aubrey Huff went through in his 6½ seasons with the Rays, he had to be there for their best. Huff, in his third season with the Orioles, said Saturday that he went to Game 7 of the ALCS with some friends to see for himself as the Rays clinched their first pennant. "I couldn't believe that was happening," he said. "That was surreal."

MISCELLANY: Players not on the past two trips worked out with the minor-leaguers (even wearing their pants at the knee and socks high to conform to minor-league rules), and Pat Burrell and Carlos Peña spoke about their hitting styles. … Burrell also worked on outfield defense. … The Rays expect their largest crowd of the spring today and encourage fans to arrive early and carpool. They are also hosting a food drive with the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition.

Tampa Bay Rays' B.J. Upton hit on hand by pitch; injury appears minor 03/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, March 21, 2009 6:11pm]

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