Tampa Bay Rays catcher John Jaso out two weeks with side strain

ST. PETERSBURG — C John Jaso didn't show any signs of injury starting two of the Rays' last three games before this week's All-Star break, but he will miss at least two weeks after being diagnosed with a right oblique strain.

Switch-hitting C Jose Lobaton was summoned from Triple-A Durham and will take over some starting duties against right-handed pitchers, and veteran Kelly Shoppach will get more playing time, manager Joe Maddon said.

Lobaton, 26, was hitting .293 with eight homers, 31 RBIs and a .410 on-base percentage. He got seven games of big-league experience with the Padres in 2009 and had a two-day stint with the Rays last season but didn't play.

Jaso, hitting .222, has been bothered by soreness in his right side since the Rays played in Minnesota on July 4-6, Maddon said. Head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield recommended "it was best to calm it down for at least a couple weeks."

The injury can lead to extended absence. Third baseman Evan Longoria missed a month this season, and others have been out 6-8 weeks.

"It's not awful," Maddon said of Jaso's injury. "He sounds as though he might be more on the minimal side of that particular injury, as opposed to the greater side of it."

LEANING LEFT: Jake McGee was called up to give the Rays three lefties in the bullpen for the first time this season. Maddon said McGee could be kept beyond Monday or Tuesday, when RHP Alex Cobb will be recalled, so another pitcher would be sent out. McGee started the season with the Rays but was sent down May 1 with a 5.14 ERA in 11 appearances. He is 4-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 24 games for Durham, converting nine of 10 save chances with a 0.77 ERA in those situations.

PITCHING IN: LHP David Price made a rapid recovery from the turf toe that kept him out of Tuesday's All-Star Game, allowing the Rays to set up their rotation as they planned, with Price and RHP James Shields pitching the first two games vs. Boston beginning tonight and the last two vs. New York next week.

RHP Jeff Niemann will pitch Sunday vs. Boston. The Rays haven't decided whether to have RHP Jeremy Hellickson face the Yankees on Monday and Cobb go Tuesday, or the other way around.

RHP Wade Davis, on the 15-day DL with a right forearm strain, said he's feeling strong and the inflammation is gone. He planned to play catch Thursday and throw a couple of bullpen sessions, hoping to rejoin the rotation in two weeks.

Price said he believes he's a better pitcher than he was last year but he has to be more consistent: "I want to come out here and perform at a level that I know I can, and I know that my teammates know that I can. It's tough to do that every time out, but I feel like the good ones … can come pretty close do doing that. So that's where I want to get back to doing, and it starts (tonight)."

SOX YARNS: Red Sox DH David Ortiz was suspended for four games for charging the mound in a July 8 benches-clearing melee with the Orioles. But Ortiz, who was not at the Trop for the Sox's workout, is expected to play against the Rays by appealing his MLB punishment. … Sox LF Carl Crawford is close to returning from a hamstring strain but will miss the series vs. his former mates. He will play rehabilitation games this weekend for Triple-A Pawtucket (vs. Durham) and could rejoin Boston on Monday.

MISCELLANY: Demoted RHP Andy Sonnanstine made his first appearance for Durham on Thursday, allowing three runs on six hits in four innings. … DH Johnny Damon (bruised left hand) expected to play tonight.

Tampa Bay Rays catcher John Jaso out two weeks with side strain 07/14/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 14, 2011 10:56pm]

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