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Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Molina is day to day after straining quad

BOSTON — Jose Molina had become the Rays' just-about-everyday catcher down the stretch.

But now they don't know how many days, if any, he will be able to catch the rest of the season after he left Tuesday's game with a right quad strain.

"I really don't know," Molina said. "We'll see how it feels (today). I really don't know if I'll be out one or two or three or five or eight days. We'll see."

Manager Joe Maddon said "it's truly the day-to-day gig," but while joking that "speed is not really a necessary part of his game," he acknowledged that it's tough for a catcher to play with a quad issue because of all the squatting and moving to block pitches.

"That was unfortunate," Maddon said. "He's really playing his best baseball of the year."

Molina was hurt after delivering a big hit, just his second of the season in 28 at-bats with runners in scoring position and two outs. His sixth-inning single scored two runs, one on his hit and the other on an outfield error.

Molina was playing in his 17th consecutive game, making his 10th start during that span. He wasn't going to start tonight anyway (with Chris Gimenez likely to face LHP Jon Lester), but he may have been used for defense.

PITCHING IN: The Rays showed they still have confidence in LHP Matt Moore by keeping the struggling rookie in the rotation.

But they appear to have a little more in RHP Jeremy Hellickson, flip-flopping their spots in the rotation so Hellickson is now set to pitch Friday in Chicago and in the season finale Oct. 3.

"Just based on recent performance, giving (Moore) an extra day and what may happen if we're able to stay in this whole dance," Maddon said. "We just thought it might be the best thing to do right now."

The Rays now are set for RHP James Shields to open the White Sox series on Thursday, followed by Hellickson, Moore and LHP David Price. The Sox also adjusted their rotation. They plan to start RHP Jake Peavy on Thursday, followed by Gavin Floyd and LHP Chris Sale, with Sunday's starter to be announced.

The Rays would then have RHP Alex Cobb, Shields and Hellickson to face the Orioles in the final three games, with Moore to pitch a potential tiebreaker playoff on Oct. 4 and Price the one-game wild-card playoff on Oct. 5. Rookie RHP Chris Archer will be available in relief.

Though Moore has failed to get through four innings in any of his last three starts, Maddon said they are certain he is not hurt nor worn down by a career-high 172 innings: "He is fine physically."

If anything, Maddon suggested Moore may have overadjusted his delivery after a Sept. 5 ESPN report that he was tipping his pitches. "I don't even care if he tells them in advance what he's throwing," Maddon said. RARE COMPANY: Price and Shields became the seventh set of teammates in MLB history to have back-to-back seasons of 200 strikeouts. Price also became the third pitcher (since 1918) to throw a complete game against the Sox at Fenway with 13 or more strikeouts and no walks, joining Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens. BUSINESS CASUAL: Maddon tried to maintain the relaxed atmosphere the players enjoyed at home by canceling the standard pregame stretching/warmup session and making batting practice optional.

MISCELLANY: INF Jeff Keppinger is hitting .500 (13-for-26) over his last seven games. … Bench coach Dave Martinez said he hasn't heard anything from the Astros, who interviewed him for their manager's job Sept. 10. … OF Sam Fuld, out a week with a right hamstring strain, took batting practice.

Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Molina is day to day after straining quad 09/25/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 12:32am]
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