Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Carlos Peña sits against Los Angeles Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Carlos Peña was surprised to walk into the Rays' clubhouse Friday and learn he wasn't in the lineup against the Angels' Jered Weaver. And there's a strong chance the first baseman will be on the bench again tonight.

In both cases, Rays manager Joe Maddon's decision is based on the opposing pitcher.

Though Weaver is a right-hander, he has been tougher on left-handed hitters. So Maddon wanted to go with as many right-handed hitters as he could and put Jeff Keppinger at first base.

The reasoning is expected to be the same tonight in a reverse situation because Angels starter C.J. Wilson is more of a traditional lefty and, thus, tougher on lefty hitters.

"I respect his decisions," Peña said of Maddon. "I don't have to like them, but I'm going to go out there and cheer for my teammates and be the best teammate I can possibly be. And that's it."

Peña is hitting just .192 though with a .322 on-base percentage, 15 homers and 46 RBIs.

"Joe knows what he's doing, and I trust what he's doing," said Peña, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the seventh. "I want to be in there every single day. Joe wants to put whatever he considers is the best lineup we have against this guy. I'll be in there again, just not (Friday)."

Peña said he expected to talk to Maddon after batting practice to get a better sense of the manger's thought process.

"I respect him so much to trust his decisions," Peña said. "If I wrote the lineup, I may be biased and write myself cleanup every single day. But when you step back and look at the overall good of the team, he's got his reasons. So I respect that."

BACK TO THIRD: Evan Longoria has been feeling well enough that there has been talk about him going back to third base during next week's homestand after DH Luke Scott is expected to return from the disabled list.

"That's something we've talked about," said Longoria, who missed three months with a partially torn left hamstring. "I feel good, but it's still in the preliminary stages as far as looking at matchups and trying to work Luke back in when he's healthy.

"I'm trying to get to the point where I'm as close to 100 percent and comfortable playing third so that I don't have to keep swapping back and forth and we can start playing consistent matchups toward the end."

MINOR-LEAGUER SUSPENDED: OF Deshun Dixon was suspended 50 games after a second violation of Major League Baseball's policy for a drug of abuse, MLB announced. Dixon, 20, was playing for short-season Class A Hudson Valley, hitting .193 with a homer and 14 RBIs in 38 games. He was the Rays' 10th-round pick in the 2010 draft and hit .220 for the Gulf Coast League Rays and .211 for rookie-league Princeton in his first two pro seasons.

REHAB REPORT: Scott, out since late July with an oblique strain, homered and singled Friday in his sixth rehab game for advanced Class A Charlotte. Scott is likely to take today off, play Sunday, then rejoin the Rays on Monday or Tuesday.

MISCELLANY: Sun Sports starts its coverage at 9 tonight; the start time was moved back to 9:30. Radio coverage starts at the standard one hour before first pitch. … Thursday's shutout was the 12th of season, one shy of the team record set last year.

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