ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Joe Maddon feared the worst when another broken bat spun dangerously at his ace pitcher Friday night. And while the talk of baseball might now be on protecting catchers after a gruesome leg injury to the Giants' Buster Posey on Wednesday, Maddon reiterated that maple bats present a much more serious safety threat.
Rays LHP David Price was grazed in the back of the head by Grady Sizemore's broken bat in the top of the seventh, the second time Price has been hit by a bat (he was brushed on the glove hand in spring training 2010). And Maddon, a proponent of eliminating maple bats since he became Rays manager in 2006, repeated his case after Friday's 5-0 win. He believes Sizemore's bat was made of maple.
"I find that to be very awkward and strange that you would talk a lot about a baseball play that was a good baseball play, just unfortunate, and not be concerned about a bat coming at somebody's face," Maddon said, comparing Marlins OF Scott Cousins’ collision with Posey, which led to a broken left leg and three torn ankle ligaments, to Friday's scary moment involving Price. "I don't know where this all begins and all ends. It's a real scary moment. If that had impaled David, something probably would have been done. I think it's more appropriate than worrying about a catcher getting hit at the plate.
"I think we misplace emphasis sometimes," Maddon added. "At some point, it can be really bad."
More Short for RODRIGUEZ: INF Sean Rodriguez made his third straight start at shortstop Friday against Cleveland and Maddon committed to giving him more time there.
"Sean has really stayed in waiting in a very pro manner," Maddon said. "Maybe this is his time, I don't know. I do believe he deserves more at-bats."
With Reid Brignac struggling and Elliot Johnson on the 15-day disabled list (sprained left knee), it opened the spot for Rodriguez, who played shortstop throughout his time in the minors. Friday was just his sixth major-league start at shortstop.
Rodriguez is no doubt swinging a hot bat. He doubled twice Tuesday in Detroit and singled Wednesday before the game was called due to rain. He singled and scored in his first at-bat Friday, and he also made a diving play on Austin Kearns' hit into the hole in the fifth.
SHIELDS SIZZLING: Coming off perhaps his best major-league outing, RHP James Shields hopes to duplicate the success he had Sunday vs. the Marlins. Shields threw a three-hit, complete-game shutout in South Florida, striking out a career-high 13, which also tied a club record. It was his third complete-game win this season, throwing a season-high 125 pitches.
"I just try to maintain what I've got right now," said Shields, today's scheduled starter. "I've been using the off-speed a lot and obviously it's been working, but I think I'm trying to maintain that fastball command in the bullpen."
MISCELLANY: RHP Rob Delaney, who was designated for assignment Wednesday, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Durham. … 3B Evan Longoria was 0-for-4 Friday and is hitting .121 (4-for-33) in his last nine games. … Injured RHP Jeff Niemann (back) threw a bullpen session, but Maddon said there's still no timetable for his return. … With the addition of the Avril Lavigne concert, the Rays bumped today's game from the gold ($12-255) to platinum ($17-275) price category. … OF Sam Fuld will host a question-and-answer session after Sunday's game with a group from the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation in the Section 130 seats. It is open to other fans also.