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Tampa Bay Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach on disabled list with knee injury

BALTIMORE — Dioner Navarro wanted to re-establish himself as an everyday catcher, and now he's going to get that chance — or close to it — with Kelly Shoppach out for at least the next two weeks.

The Rays placed Shoppach on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday due to a right knee sprain sustained Saturday in a home-plate collision with New York's Curtis Granderson.

Manager Joe Maddon said Navarro will get the "preponderance" of playing time, likely in three- or four-day chunks, though rookie John Jaso — with just five games in the big leagues — will get some opportunity as well after being recalled from Triple-A Durham.

"I'm curious about Jaso," Maddon said. "I thought he had a really good camp. If you remember in the beginning I was not pleased with the whole thing, then him and (bullpen coach Bobby Ramos) got together and did some really good work, and by the end of camp I thought he was doing a really good job, talking about receiving, throwing, his at-bats, etc."

Shoppach, who had been splitting time with Navarro, sustained what is being called a sprain of the medial collateral ligament. He stayed in the game — breaking up CC Sabathia's no-hitter two innings later with a single — but hasn't played since.

The knee got stiff on Sunday night's extended trip to Baltimore and "progressively worse" since. "Just hasn't gone away," Shoppach said. "It came to a point (Monday) where I didn't feel comfortable being able to perform; I wouldn't be able to help the team."

Jaso arrived in the eighth inning, having missed one flight from Atlanta as he was stuck in traffic, capping what he called a "hectic but pleasant day.''

CUBAN DEAL DONE: Now that the Rays got Cuban defector OF/1B Leslie Anderson signed (to a four-year deal that guarantees about $1.7 million), through the bureaucratic hurdles regarding his visa and to Port Charlotte, they can start working on getting him ready to play.

He'll start with a stint in extended spring training, then likely be assigned to either Class A Charlotte or Double-A Montgomery, with a September callup to the big leagues a possibility.

"We're going to take some time to get him in shape, and then we'll figure out where to start him," executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "On the front end, we're going to place a lot of emphasis on the assimilation process; Milton Jamail (coordinator of their cultural and educational programs) has done a tremendous job for us with our Latin American players. We still need to go through what is the best city for him to do that in, to get his feet on the ground and to put himself in a position to be able to exclusively focus on baseball."

At the least, Anderson, 28, projects as a big-league bench player, given his athleticism and versatility, with the potential to do better. The left-hander had a .320 average over nine seasons with Camaguey, hitting .381 with 13 HRs and 62 RBIs in 2008-09, his final season before defecting. Rays director of international operations Carlos Alfonso called him "the consummate professional hitter."

Anderson, who got a $500,000 signing bonus, can make up to $2.35 million if he spends most of his time in the majors, plus plate appearance incentives.

MISCELLANY: The 5-3 start is the best in franchise history for eight games. It is also the first time they've won their first two road games. … LF Carl Crawford said he was "a little surprised" he wasn't starting against O's lefty Brian Matusz, but said, "I'm just going to roll with whatever they want to do." … Pitchers started taking batting practice. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson retired 14 straight during a 61/3-inning outing for Triple-A Durham.

Tampa Bay Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach on disabled list with knee injury 04/13/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 1:22am]

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