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Tampa Bay Rays' DH Luke Scott leaves with more back tightness

Rays DH Luke Scott fouls a pitch off in the fourth inning and is lifted for a pinch-hitter in the 10th after his back tightens.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Rays DH Luke Scott fouls a pitch off in the fourth inning and is lifted for a pinch-hitter in the 10th after his back tightens.

ST. PETERSBURG — DH Luke Scott left the Rays' 4-3 victory over the Mariners on Friday in the 10th inning due to right mid back tightness.

Scott said he felt it on a ball he hit to the left but didn't think it was bad and hoped to be back Sunday.

That is concerning considering Scott, the team's RBI leader, missed 17 games last month while on the disabled list with back tightness.

"It's frustrating," he said. "It's completely different (than the previous back injury). The last time was like back spasms where I couldn't breathe and I couldn't move, so this is much less. I believe it's going to be something minor."

Scott, who went 1-for-4 Friday before being lifted for a pinch-hitter, had entered the game on a hot streak, with nine hits in his previous four games.

OF Matt Joyce also was pinch-hit for with the score tied with one out in the eighth. Joyce, who returned after sitting Thursday due to stiffness and soreness, went 1-for-3.

Joyce came off the DL on Tuesday, having missed 23 games due to oblique and back strains, and manager Joe Maddon said he would have to monitor Joyce this weekend.

Because the Rays lack outfield depth, CF B.J. Upton and LF Desmond Jennings have started every game on this homestand. They could get help soon. Sam Fuld (right wrist surgery) is expected to rejoin the Rays next week. Fuld, at Triple-A Durham, went 0-for-4 Friday in his ninth rehab game.

STADIUM TALK: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who took batting practice, vowed to go to bat for the Rays, saying he won't let them leave the region.

Buckhorn said the Rays and St. Petersburg have to resolve their differences when it comes to locations for a potential new stadium, but "if they can't, then we will be ready."

"We want them to remain the Tampa Bay Rays; we're not going to let that team go to Charlotte (N.C.) or go to Las Vegas or go anywhere else," he said. "That is our team, and we intend to keep it our team, and however that works and wherever that works out is yet to be determined. But as far as I'm concerned, we're going to do everything we have to to protect the viability of this franchise, whether it's in St. Petersburg or Tampa."

ON TRACK: RHP Alex Cobb enters tonight's start confident he has cleared up some of the small mechanical issues that plagued him in his last outing, when he threw just half his pitches for strikes in 3⅓ innings.

Cobb said he had problems with his release point and fell toward the third-base line in his delivery, but most of all he couldn't make the in-game adjustments he usually does.

"That was the most frustrating thing," Cobb said. "What makes you successful over the long term is, pitch to pitch, being able to make adjustments, and I wasn't able to do that. I didn't have a clue; it was really a lonely feeling not being in control of myself."

ON A ROLL: Maddon said he has enjoyed watching the "resurgence" of LHP J.P. Howell, who is pitching better than he ever has since his left shoulder surgery in 2010. Howell extended his scoreless innings streak to 16 innings Friday, the longest by a Rays reliever this year. Maddon said Howell is throwing harder and his curve is coming back.

"As long as he stays healthy, you're going to see him probably pitch as good, if not at a better level, than you saw in 2008," Maddon said.

UP TOP: That Upton has done well in the leadoff spot has made it easier for Maddon not to rush Jennings back there. Maddon likes the way Jennings has performed in the seventh spot (1-for-5 Friday after hitting .367 in the 10 games before that) and believes Upton has provided energy at leadoff.

Tampa Bay Rays' DH Luke Scott leaves with more back tightness 07/20/12 [Last modified: Saturday, July 21, 2012 1:20am]

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