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Tampa Bay Rays' Matt Joyce sits with a sore left shoulder

BALTIMORE — RF Matt Joyce was scratched from Friday's lineup due to "post-injection soreness" in his left shoulder but expects to return today against the Orioles.

Joyce said his left (nonthrowing) shoulder had bothered him for about a week and a half, and he stayed in Los Angeles on Thursday to get a cortisone shot. Joyce, who entered Friday second in the American League in hitting at .338, said manager Joe Maddon suggested he back off for a day.

"We figured we had an off day (Thursday) and tried to take advantage of it," said Joyce, who was replaced by Justin Ruggiano.

"Came in (Friday), and it was still really sore. It was sore from the shot, not from the injury. I don't know if you can call it an injury."

Joyce said he had a similar shot before spring training and could get another if the soreness comes back.

"These shots normally clear him up for a long period of time," Maddon said. "I don't know how it's going to be addressed in the future. But for right now, he should be fine for (today)."

BACK ON TRACK: 3B Evan Longoria returned to the lineup after not starting three games due to strep throat. He said he feels "back to normal" and is ready to put all of his injuries behind him.

Longoria missed most of the first month with a strained left oblique. He tweaked it June 4, forcing him to not start Sunday. He said that while "it'll be a day-in and day-out grind to keep it healthy," he feels fine, and "I'm not going to make any excuses for it."

"It seems to be one thing after another right now," said Longoria, who is hitting .252 with four homers and 13 RBIs. "I've never been a negative kind of guy, and at this point, I'm not going to be negative about it. It just so happened that I had a little trouble with the oblique and then got sick, and we're looking at four days where I don't get to play.

"I'm just happy to be back right now, and I've got an opportunity. We've got 100 games or so left. I've still got a lot of time to hopefully make up some ground and help this team."

STANDING TALL: RHP Jeff Niemann, who is on the DL with a lower back strain, was with the team in Baltimore to get treatment and throw in front of pitching coach Jim Hickey, saying his rehab is going well.

Niemann said his last start for Triple-A Durham, on Wednesday (when he gave up four runs and seven hits in four innings), was "very encouraging" and he "felt strong the whole time." Niemann will make one more start with Durham early next week, likely throwing about 90 pitches, and hopes to be back with the Rays after that.

"Everything is feeling good right now," Niemann said. "Back feels good and strong."

MEDICAL MATTERS: INF Elliot Johnson, on the DL with a left knee sprain, played five innings at shortstop Friday for Durham, going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Maddon said Johnson will be in Baltimore today, when they will decide about activating him.

TAKEN AWAY: Due to a scoring change, DH Johnny Damon lost a hit and RBI on May 28 against the Indians. 1B Matt LaPorta was charged with an error on the ninth-inning play. Damon's leadoff walk Friday, however, extended his streak of reaching base to 35 games.

Late start: The start of Friday's game was delayed for 1 hour, 8 minutes by rain.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Rays' Matt Joyce sits with a sore left shoulder 06/10/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 10, 2011 11:12pm]
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