ST. PETERSBURG — For the second time in three games, LF Carl Crawford did not start.
Manager Joe Maddon said there's nothing physically wrong with Crawford, that this was just "preventative maintenance" to keep him healthy over the course of a long season. The Rays were also off on Monday
Maddon said Crawford, who entered as a pinch-runner in the ninth and stole second, will start tonight.
Playing on the Tropicana Field turf can be tough on Crawford's legs. And with the Blue Jays throwing two lefties this series, Maddon said this provided a good opportunity for rest. Crawford didn't even participate in on-field batting practice before the game.
"This is like 'Free Carl' week," Maddon said. "Just trying to heal his body up and get him feeling good as we move it along."
ON A ROLL: Ben Zobrist appears to have found a comfort zone at the plate. His hitting streak ended at nine games, but he has hit safely in 20 of his past 22 starts.
Maddon said the big difference has been Zobrist organizing his strike zone better, laying off pitches he would have chased earlier in the season. That has put him in better counts and forced pitchers to come to him.
Zobrist has said he noticed opponents making adjustments against him coming off of his breakout season of a year ago. Maddon said the switch-hitter has bounced back by making his own.
"I think he's learned something this year," Maddon said. "And he has really reacted to the whole situation well."
DRAFT BREEZE: Second-round pick Derek Dietrich was at Tropicana Field on Thursday, signed during the game and said he's ready to report this weekend to short-season Class A Hudson Valley.
It has been a whirlwind week for Dietrich, a Georgia Tech shortstop. His college career ended Monday in the NCAA tournament. Tuesday, he was chosen 79th overall.
"It's been pretty exciting, pretty hectic," Dietrich said. "I can't wait to get ready and go out and play for the Rays."
Dietrich said he has heard great things about the organization from OF Matt Joyce, a friend with whom he shares an agent.
"It's a great place to be, hope I can be here soon," he said.
One of the Rays' first-round picks, C Justin O'Conner, is expected to be in St. Petersburg today.
MEDICAL MATTERS: C Dioner Navarro was scratched due to a stiff neck. John Jaso started instead. … SS Jason Bartlett (right hamstring strain) said everything is going according to plan with his rehab and he still plans on returning Tuesday in Atlanta, when he's eligible to come off the disabled list. Bartlett said he has felt good doing everything, from hitting to fielding grounders, with the next test of running the bases coming today.
MISCELLANY: Interleague play returns today with the Rays playing 15 straight games against National League teams. … Thursday was the 1,000th home game in Rays history. … With a fourth-inning double, 3B Evan Longoria has reached base in 28 straight games.
Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.