ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon initially had DH Manny Ramirez in Wednesday's lineup but changed his mind, saying he wanted to give him a break because he feels the veteran slugger is pressing, trying to "shoulder too much of the burden" for a struggling offense.
Ramirez, 38, ended up pinch-hitting in the eighth of the Rays' 5-1 loss to the Angels, flying out to right to make him 1-for-17 (.059) this season.
His day off today won't be hitting related, however, as Maddon said he will miss the series opener in Chicago to tend to a personal matter. Maddon said it's connected to Ramirez's absence last Wednesday, when Ramirez said he was in South Florida taking care of something with his kids. Maddon said Ramirez will return to the lineup Friday.
Ramirez wasn't surprised to hear boos after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Tuesday, saying he has been there before and "it's all good." He said he doesn't feel like he's pressing but acknowledged he's swinging at bad pitches.
Maddon said the fact that Ramirez is chasing pitches indicated to him he's trying too hard, and he conveyed that to him in a pregame conversation.
"With guys like him, I think sometimes we forget, and I mean this in a manner that I hope people understand, it's not easy to be him sometimes," Maddon said. "There's a lot going on with his guy. He will be a Hall of Famer. He's in the latter part of his career. So, you can have different kind of moments mentally."
Ramirez, who left the clubhouse before it was open to the media after the game, seemed upbeat Wednesday morning, saying there's "plenty of time" for him to produce and get back on track. And Johnny Damon, his former teammate with Boston, believes he will.
"Manny is one of the greatest hitters of our generation, and even great hitters press," Damon said. "He's not used to failing at this game like average people. He'll find it. We just hope and pray that it's sooner rather than later."
REMEMBER ME? Tampa Bay faces White Sox RHP Edwin Jackson today for the first time since the former Ray threw a no-hitter at the Trop on June 25 when he was with the Diamondbacks. He did so with eight walks and 149 pitches.
"I have a lot of respect for him and what he's done already in a short career; he was a great teammate for us," Maddon said. "It'll be interesting to see him, but again, we're going to try to beat him. He had his way against us last time; hopefully it'll turn around this time."
HOT BAT: CF B.J. Upton set a career best with a five-game hitting streak to start the season, homering Wednesday. "He's getting the bat head out," Maddon said. "He's getting out front, he's not behind on pitches, he's not late on pitches."
COOL OFF: LHP David Price said the White Sox present a lot of firepower, even without DH Adam Dunn (out after an appendectomy). "One through nine, they can all hit the ball out of the yard," Price said. But it'll also be a challenge facing some cool weather, scheduled to be rainy and in the 40s-50s throughout the four-game series. "It'll be tough, we'll be battling that weather," Price said. "We haven't been in that cold weather in I don't know how long. But we'll be ready to go."
MISCELLANY: LHP J.P. Howell (shoulder) threw another bullpen session, with Maddon saying he'll likely be ready for a live batting practice by the time the Rays return from their seven-game road trip. … RHP Mike Ekstrom cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Durham. … Cal Ripken Jr. will throw out the first pitch for Class A Charlotte before tonight's game against visiting Bradenton at 6:30.