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Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon is finding ways to rest players during grueling stretch

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Heading home after playing in southern California to wrap a 10-day road trip, the Rays would typically have today off. Instead, they'll be hosting the Royals tonight.

That treat came courtesy of the MLB schedule-makers as part of a stretch of playing 19 consecutive days. The Rays did adjust their schedule at the end of the week to accommodate the Republican National Convention event, moving the A's series to Thursday-Saturday with Sunday off.

With the quick turnaround today, manager Joe Maddon is plotting ways to rest players (for example, Ben Zobrist and Jeff Keppinger were off Sunday) and will reduce the pregame workload, having the players report later, in what he has called "American Legion" week, where they just show up and play.

"The first two-three days back are a huge concern for me, based on a 10-day trip and then going home without a day (off)," he said. "And it's exaggerated, or exacerbated, by going West Coast to East Coast, which rarely or almost never happens."

Of specific concern will be DH Evan Longoria, who has played 12 of 13 games since coming off the DL Aug. 7 after missing three months with a left hamstring injury. Maddon said he likely won't play Longoria tonight.

Longoria said he understands the concern but is feeling good at the plate and would see how the leg is today. "If it's the smartest thing to do overall and I'm a little sore then it's a possibility," he said. "But there's a possibility my stubbornness might take over, too."

REHAB REPORT: Luke Scott went 2-for-3 with a double and two walks as the DH in his seventh and final rehab game for Class A Charlotte, finishing 8-for-26. Scott, out since July 21 with a mild oblique strain, will rejoin the Rays today and likely will be activated Tuesday. … RHP Jeff Niemann had a rough outing for Triple-A Durham in the third of four scheduled rehab starts, allowing 12 hits (though four runs) in 41/3 innings, throwing 76 pitches. Niemann, out since mid May with a broken leg, is targeted for a late August return, though it could wait until after the Sept. 1 roster expansion.

ABOUT SATURDAY NIGHT: The Rays matched their biggest comeback to win in franchise history, beating the Angels 10-8 after rallying from an 8-0 deficit. The Rays got even in the sixth then went ahead when Carlos Peña hit a two-run pinch-hit homer in the eighth and hung on, after a bit of a shaky ninth by closer Fernando Rodney, when Peña made a nice scoop on SS Ben Zobrist's throw to first for the final out. For several players, it was somewhat reminiscent of their remarkable comeback in Game 162 last season. "We were talking about that during the game," Zobrist said.

MISCELLANY: The 37 runs were the most the Rays have scored in a series. … The eight wins matched their second most for a road trip, behind a 9-1 jaunt in 2010 and equal with an 8-1 journey in 2004. … The four-game sweep was their second this season (Seattle at home) and first on the road since 2010 at Boston. It was their first four-game sweep of the Angels. … C Jose Molina has a nine-game hitting steak.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon is finding ways to rest players during grueling stretch 08/19/12 [Last modified: Sunday, August 19, 2012 11:26pm]
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