Tampa Bay Rays' Luke Scott ready to return from disabled list

ST. PETERSBURG — DH Luke Scott says he was ready to come back a week ago, but his time will likely come today, when he's activated off the disabled list.

Scott, recovering from an oblique strain, played in eight games on a rehab assignment with Class A Charlotte, batting .308 with two homers. He stayed through the weekend to sharpen his hitting and get work at first base, as Evan Longoria was taking up most of the DH at-bats.

With manager Joe Maddon saying Longoria, who had a planned day off Monday, is "really close" to playing third base, Scott will get some opportunities at DH and first.

"Everything is feeling good, I'm ready to go," Scott said. "It's good to see the team is playing well and I'm excited to be back."

Even when Longoria returns to third base, it won't be on an everyday basis, so Scott will have to split DH duties. Scott said he feels comfortable at first base and can play some corner outfield, though Maddon said it's nice to be able to move around his DH game-in-progress.

"I'll do whatever they want me to do," Scott said.

UP NEXT: What the Rays will have to do today is decide which player to send down to make room for Scott. "A very tough call," Maddon said.

Though INF Sean Rodriguez would seem the likely choice (as he has minor-league options), Maddon has said he has been "doing really well" recently.

Another possibility is INF Elliot Johnson, though he is out of options and would have to go through waivers. The Rays could also demote INF Ryan Roberts, but Maddon has liked using him at second base.

Rodriguez, who is hitting .215 and has played in just 24 of the 35 games since the All-Star break, is taking the situation in stride. And, if sent down, he could be brought back from Durham with the Sept. 1 roster expansion.

"It's hard to say disappointing because of where the team is at right now," Rodriguez said. "But it would have been nice to obviously contribute more."

FOR SHORT: Ben Zobrist was at DH Monday, giving him back-to-back days off his feet, which Maddon thinks is huge. Maddon said Zobrist is likely to start the remaining of the five games at shortstop, where he has been impressive since moving there almost permanently this month.

It brought up the question of whether it could be a precursor to Zobrist playing short next season.

"I don't know," Maddon said. "If he can be the shortstop the rest of the year and do well, of course he could."

CATCHING ON: C Jose Molina has hit safely in nine consecutive games, the second longest streak of his career, and Maddon said a key is that he's organizing his strike zone (two walks Sunday).

Molina said he concentrates mostly on his play behind the plate, and Maddon believes he's playing as well defensively (blocking, throwing, game-calling) as he has all year.

And Maddon points out that Molina, who has already played in 72 games, is feeling good physically, with the ability to maintain the level of performance.

"I think he's going to continue," Maddon said. "He's a veteran, he has been through this before. He likes it, he knows what it feels like."

PRICE CHECK: Molina had a simple explanation for LHP David Price's recent roll, with an 8-0 record and 1.72 ERA in his past 11 starts: "He's been hitting his spots. I've always said when he hits his spots, he's going to be a great pitcher. This year it's been amazing hitting his spots with every pitch. If he continues that, he'll be right there in the Cy Young at the end of the year."

MISCELLANY: LHP J.P. Howell extended his club-record scoreless streak to 252/3 innings.

Tampa Bay Rays' Luke Scott ready to return from disabled list 08/20/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 20, 2012 11:58pm]

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