Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Lobaton leaves game with sore right shoulder

DETROIT — The Rays have another injury issue that could force a scramble at their thinnest position, catcher.

Jose Lobaton left Thursday's game with pain in the back of his right shoulder and said he didn't know how long he would be out; "if it's going to be a couple days, if it's going to be a week."

Any extended absence would force the Rays to make a move as they have to limit the innings of veteran Jose Molina and don't seem to consider Stephen Vogt ready defensively. They would have to seek a trade or waiver claim or promote an inexperienced catcher from Triple A, Nevin Ashley or, possibly, Craig Albernaz. Chris Gimenez, who has big-league experience, is on the Triple-A disabled list.

Lobaton said "it felt like something pinched me" during a throw to second in the fifth and it bothered him even when tossing the ball back to the mound. He saw a doctor, who said it was in the muscle, but is likely to undergo further testing and examination today in Boston.

"He said it's not going to be so bad, but I don't know," Lobaton said. "I've got to wait to see how my shoulder reacts (today)."

HELLICKSON SET: RHP Jeremy Hellickson felt normal the day after being hit in the head by a ball during batting practice, which was good enough for clearance to make his next start as scheduled on Saturday.

"There's really nothing, not even a mark," Hellickson said.

Hellickson took and passed another concussion-related test Thursday, which was considered the last issue for his return.

"He's looking pretty normal, speaking normal," manager Joe Maddon said.

Hellickson reiterated how fortunate he was to not be seriously hurt and revealed he dodged three or four other balls during his bullpen session beyond the leftfield wall at Comerica Park. When he heard the last "Heads-up!" he immediately ducked and headed toward the outfield fence to use it as a shield.

"There were some close calls there, so I didn't take any chance of trying to find it," Hellickson he said. "I just put my head down, and I pretty much walked right into it."

FOR EVERY ACTION: Former Rays OF Delmon Young said he was scared when he first heard one of the balls he hit struck Hellickson in the head, that "it's the last thing you want to happen," and relieved to learn there was no serious injury.

GREAT SCOTT: DH Luke Scott felt some soreness after running and taking batting practice on the field for the first time since straining his left hamstring on Sunday and will be a game-time decision today, Maddon said. The Rays have reason to want him in there: a .435 average against Boston RHP Josh Beckett (10-for-23, three homers).

DIALED IN: LHP David Price starts today, focused on improving his fastball command after a "fortunate" win over the Yankees on Saturday, when he walked four and threw 47 of his 107 pitches for balls.

"I plan on throwing more strikes with my fastball, so hopefully that will make me better," he said.

ABOUT WEDNESDAY: There were two historical notations with Wednesday's comeback win. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time in 22 years a team beat a pitcher after he shut them out on one or no hits through eight innings. Last? The 1989 Blue Jays against the Mariners' Mark Langston on May 10 after he had a 2-0 lead and no-hitter through eight. Also, it was the second time the Rays won after getting one (or no) hits through eight innings. Last? May 13, 2007, at Toronto, when they led 1-0 after eight on one hit and won 2-1.

MISCELLANY: 3B Evan Longoria has a 10-game hitting streak going back to last season. … CF B.J. Upton (lower back soreness) is scheduled to play for Class A Charlotte tonight in the third game of his scheduled 10-day rehab assignment.

Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Lobaton leaves game with sore right shoulder 04/12/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 12, 2012 8:19pm]

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