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Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Lobaton lands on disabled list with left knee sprain

ST. PETERSBURG — C Jose Lobaton was understandably excited for Sunday's start, his first in the big leagues since 2009, and planned to enjoy every minute of it.

But Lobaton's night ended in disappointment, as he sprained his left knee in the ninth inning of the Rays 1-0, 16-inning loss to Boston and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

C Robinson Chirinos, who impressed in spring training after getting acquired from the Cubs in the RHP Matt Garza trade, was called up and will be here for tonight's game with the Yankees.

Lobaton, who was called up Friday, said he hurt his knee trying to block a pitch in the dirt in the ninth and "felt something crack."

Though he said it's not considered a serious ligament injury, it was tough to take.

"I feel a little sad," Lobaton said. "But it's something that happens in the game. I've just got to wait, get healthy and be ready for whatever...I'll be back."

Lobaton, 26, was hoping to take advantage of his long-awaited chance and show that - after nine minor league seasons - he could be more than just a temporary injury replacement for C John Jaso (right oblique strain).

Maddon has said Lobaton, who went 0-for-3 before being replaced, earned this opportunity, having become more of a "complete player" in Durham; Lobaton worked diligently on improving in several areas the manager asked him to address in their spring training meeting, both offensively and defensively.

"We definitely see him as part of our plans in the future," Maddon said.

But the time is now for Chirinos, a switch-hitter who cooled off at the plate in Durham following a very hot spring training, when he hit .429 and had several, big, late-inning hits.

Chirinos was hitting .265 with five homers and 22 RBI in 68 games for the Bulls. It will be his first big-league callup.

Bigger stage: RHP Alex Cobb, recalled from Durham to start tonight against the Yankees, had planned to play catch after Sunday's game.

He just never thought he'd have to wait until around 2 a.m.

But following the Rays' marathon loss, Cobb made about 30 throws.

"I stuck around, so might as well play a little catch," he said.

Cobb hopes he can stick around until late in tonight's game, considering how the entire bullpen was used against the Red Sox.

Cobb, who is replacing the injured RHP Wade Davis (right forearm strain), is excited for what he feels is the most important of his six big-league starts this year.

"It doesn't get much bigger than that, especially coming off a tough loss like that (Sunday)," Cobb said. "We want to get back into the swing of things and eat up some innings - that bullpen was attacked tonight. So I hope I can put together a quality start."

There was some question whether Cobb would be able to make this start after he got hit in the back of the head by a line drive in batting practice with the Bulls Friday.

Cobb said he was playing catch in shallow rightfield with RHP Andy Sonnanstine, when a hit by INF Felipe Lopez caught him by surprise.

"We always keep our eye on the ball, try to make sure to catch any liners," Cobb said. "I must not have looked at one pitch and got a 'heads-up' call in the last second. I looked, turned away and got smoked in the back of the head. It hurt a little bit but I had a a little bit of a headache, but nothing too serious."

Cobb smiled, and added, "They put a helmet on me the next day when I was playing catch."

Considering the poise and pitching ability Cobb showed in his early season call-ups, Maddon has no doubt he'll be able to handle tonight's nationally-televised ESPN start well.

Cobb went 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA in his past four big-league starts.

"I believe he's going to be fine," Maddon said. "I expect to see a very calm demeanor, a guy who is not going to get overwhelmed with the situation."

Steal Fairly: Maddon had an interesting response when informed that the Yankees suggested the Blue Jays could be using extraordinary methods, such as binoculars or electronic devices, to steal signs: "We have not thought that this year."

Maddon said he is in favor of traditional sign stealing but not when it's done by people not on the field or in the dugout.

"I'm all for stealing a third-base coach's signs or if a manager is not hiding his signs to whomever or if a catcher goes out, whatever. Those signs are there to be stolen," Maddon said. "That's part of the game. Utilizing technology to do that I think is inappropriate. … That's bad form, I don't agree with that."

LINING UP: OF Matt Joyce was scratched from the starting lineup Sunday due to swelling and stiffness in his right knee and limited to a pinch-hit appearance.

Joyce led off the ninth, lining out softly to shortstop and looking uncomfortable as he ran.

He fouled a ball off his kneecap in the fifth inning Saturday then homered.

Postgame X-rays were negative, and he was hopeful of playing Sunday, but he said he tested it early and was unable to run effectively. Joyce hopes to return to the lineup tonight against the Yankees.

SIMPLY SMASHING: With two outs in the eighth, 2B Sean Rodriguez hit a foul ball that broke a light on the B-ring catwalk, shattering glass onto the field and into the stands. The game was delayed for a few minutes while the glass was cleaned up, and Rodriguez ended up striking out.

MISCELLANY: A fan ran onto the field with one out in the top of the 11th and was tackled by security guards. … LHP R.J. Swindle took the opt-out clause in his minor-league contract and was granted his release from Triple-A Durham.

Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Lobaton lands on disabled list with left knee sprain 07/17/11 [Last modified: Monday, July 18, 2011 4:38am]

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