TORONTO — Manager Joe Maddon gave INF Felipe Lopez a lecture and a seat on the bench for Saturday's game against the Blue Jays after Lopez's latest lack-of-hustle transgression, then said he was willing to give the veteran infielder another chance.
Lopez declined to comment, smiling, pointing at his sealed lips, then saying only: "I don't want to say anything."
Lopez was pulled from Friday's 6-4 loss after not running hard to first base in the 11th inning on a ball that ended up being bobbled. That was the second time in a week he violated a Maddon cardinal rule and the third time he created trouble. He also drew harsh words from Maddon when he flung his bat at White Sox LHP Chris Sale after a homer April 9.
"I just want him to understand that's how we do things here, and I've talked to him about it before," Maddon said. "For us to be repeat AL East champs, we've got to play the game a certain way, and that's it."
Lopez, 30, came to the Rays with something of a checkered past, and with 3B Evan Longoria set to come off the disabled list next week, his future could be in question. The lack of hustle has been a theme through his career. He had similar issues with the Nationals in 2007 and the Diamondbacks and Brewers in 2009. He was released by the Cardinals last year after repeatedly showing up late.
"I really like this fella. He's a very likable guy," Maddon said. "Maybe it's not been presented to him in a way that this stuff is that important in the past. I just want him to know while he's here, it is that important. So hopefully he'll understand that and make the adjustments, because I think he's done a great job for us so far."
To make room for Longoria, the Rays would likely drop Lopez, 1B Casey Kotchman or maybe 1B Dan Johnson, with the possibility that whoever they choose could be lost on waivers.
SUPER MEN: LF Sam Fuld and CF B.J. Upton were scared when they realized how close they came to what would have been a painful mid-air collision during Saturday's 6-4 win.
"It wasn't until after I caught it that I looked back and B.J. was sprawled out and realized we both dove for it; I had no idea," Fuld said of going for a liner to left-center in the seventh. "His eyes were the size of baseballs. He was like he just avoided a car wreck, and after the fact I realized, yeah, I avoided a car wreck as well."
Said Upton: "I dove, and he went by me, and all I could think was holy … mackerel. … Hopefully that doesn't happen anymore. It was very scary."
They did agree, however, on what the potential outcome of a collision would have been. "I think I would have won that collision," Upton said. Said Fuld: "That's a silly question."
KYLE OKAY: RHP Kyle Farnsworth said the issue near his left knee, related to a hamstring bruise, is similar to what bothered him in spring training and not a big concern, even though it looked bad when he first went down in the ninth. "It's just a nagging thing; it hasn't gotten any worse," he said.
CG HUNT: Having thrown a complete game in his last outing, RHP James Shields starts today looking for another. "It's definitely hard to throw back-to-back CGs, but I'm going to go out and pitch my game," he said. "I'm capable of doing that on any given day. And the way that I'm throwing right now with my delivery, and the way I've been pitching, I'm going to go out there and try to do it again."
MISCELLANY: DH Johnny Damon extended his hitting streak to 12 games. … Reid Brignac's seventh-inning bunt was changed to a hit after being scored an error. … LHP David Price improved to 7-0, 2.30 in eight starts vs. Toronto. … Fuld, who woke up leading the AL in hitting, went 1-for-3 to drop to .365 from .366 and out of the top spot. … Blue Jays RHP Brandon Morrow had 10 strikeouts in his first start off the DL.