Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays may activate Matt Joyce today

ST. PETERSBURG — OF Matt Joyce is expected to be back at Tropicana Field today and could be activated from the disabled list, giving the Rays offense a much-needed boost.

Joyce, out since mid June with oblique and back strains, went 1-for-5 while playing DH in his second rehab game for Class A Charlotte Monday.

Joyce tweeted Monday night he was driving back from Daytona Beach and will "see (you) guys on the field (today)." "I'm baaaaaaack!!" he tweeted.

The Rays wouldn't confirm Joyce's activation, only that he will be re-evaluated today by the team's athletic training staff.

"He's very close," manager Joe Maddon said.

Maddon said Joyce's return will make for an "interesting" decision on who goes to make room. They could part with DH/OF Hideki Matsui, who is hitting .165, or option INFs Brooks Conrad or Will Rhymes to the minors.

LIKE home: Indians LF Johnny Damon has played for seven teams, so he has experienced his share of reunions.

But coming back to Tropicana Field on Monday to face the Rays was extra special for the 38-year-old veteran, who expected and hoped to return after playing for Tampa Bay in 2011.

"I miss not being here every day," Damon said. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it at all. It feels like home."

Rays fans made Damon feel at home with cheers before his first at-bat in the third inning and applauded even after he ripped a double off RHP Alex Cobb. They also welcomed back Indians 1B Casey Kotchman, a Seminole High product and another key part of the Rays' wild-card run last season.

Damon, who went 2-for-3, said he's proud the Rays have kept the tradition of lighting the Captain Morgan lamp in postgame celebrations, considering he brought it in last year. "I don't want to hear about it being lit up the next four days," he said with a smile.

FAMILY MATTERS: Kotchman was excited he got to visit with family in the area, saying he was "spoiled" last year by playing for his hometown team: "A tremendous blessing." He said he'd also be open to returning to the Rays. "You never know," he said.

TRADE WINDS: Though RHP James Shields is the latest Ray to be named in trade rumors, manager Joe Maddon reiterated he doesn't anticipate t any big moves before the July 31 deadline.

Maddon said the Rays' goal is still to win the American League East, despite entering Monday trailing the Yankees by 8½ games, and "you want to stay as strong as you possibly can, you're not looking to lose people."

"I like the idea of maintaining the core of the group," Maddon said. "Because, honestly, if you look at Aug. 1 acquisitions and the impact that has been made by those guys, I think sometimes that's overblown a little bit, quite frankly."

UP TOP: INF Will Rhymes led off for the second straight game and went 0-for-2 with two walks. But LF Desmond Jennings will eventually reclaim the role. Maddon has liked Jennings' progress lower in the order. He went 2-for-3 Monday with a home run and a sacrifice bunt.

MEDICAL MATTERS: OF Sam Fuld (right wrist surgery) went 1-for-3 with a walk for Triple-A Durham in his sixth rehab game after five with Charlotte.

• Maddon said 3B Evan Longoria (partially torn left hamstring) could travel with the team on its West Coast trip next week so it can monitor him closely. There's still no timetable on his return.

MISCELLANY: C Jose Molina played in his 56th game of the season, one more than he did all last year with Toronto. Maddon said the Rays' goal was for Molina to play in half their games but pointed out he may get "100 or so." Molina's career high is 100, in 2008 with the Yankees.

Comments
Rays trade team MVP Steven Souza Jr. in three-team deal that nets prospects

Rays trade team MVP Steven Souza Jr. in three-team deal that nets prospects

PORT CHARLOTTE — Evan Longoria traded in December. Jake Odorizzi and Corey Dickerson dumped over the weekend. Then, in a stunning move Tuesday night, 2017 team MVP Steven Souza Jr. shipped to Arizona as part of a three-team deal that netted onl...
Updated: 29 minutes ago

Who are Anthony Banda and Nick Solak

So, who did the Rays get back for RF Steven Souza Jr.?LHP Anthony Banda, 24, who appeared in eight games/four starts for the Diamondbacks last season, and 2B Nick Solak, 23, from the Yankees organization in addition to two players to be named later f...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Steven Souza trade: Instant reaction to the Rays latest deal

Steven Souza trade: Instant reaction to the Rays latest deal

The Rays traded right fielder Steven Souza, Jr., their 2017 team MVP, to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night in a three-team deal for Arizona's No. 2 prospect, lefty Anthony Banda, Yankees infield prospect Nick Solak and two players to be named...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Steven Souza Jr. on Rays’ roster moves: ‘This is not a shocker’

Steven Souza Jr. on Rays’ roster moves: ‘This is not a shocker’

PORT CHARLOTTE — RF Steven Souza Jr. returned to camp Tuesday after missing four days while he went home to Seattle to attend to a family matter.When asked if everything was okay, Souza said, "Right now. We'll just leave it at that."S...
Updated: 5 hours ago
After whirlwind few days, C.J. Cron joins Rays

After whirlwind few days, C.J. Cron joins Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE – C.J. Cron knew he was spending Tuesday night in a Punta Gorda hotel. Beyond that, he knew little of his future with the Rays."I haven't talked to anybody about anything really," Cron said.The right-handed hitting first baseman ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Who is new Rays 1B/DH C.J. Cron? 10 things to know

Who is new Rays 1B/DH C.J. Cron? 10 things to know

Acquired Saturday night from the Angels (for a player to be named – a minor-leaguer, and not a top prospect), 1B/DH C.J. Cron is expected to join the Rays today in Port Charlotte.Here are 10 things to know about him:1. Full name: Christopher Jo...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays tread new turf (literally) for second straight year

Rays tread new turf (literally) for second straight year

PORT CHARLOTTE — Tropicana Field is getting new turf — again.Shaw Sports will replace the surface installed last spring in a mutual decision with the Rays that it did not look as good — from the stands or on TV — as expected.T...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Longtime fan Dick Vitale sounds off on Rays’ latest roster moves

Longtime fan Dick Vitale sounds off on Rays’ latest roster moves

Longtime and extremely popular ESPN college basketball announcer Dick Vitale is arguably the Rays' most prominent fan.The Lakewood Ranch resident has season tickets adjacent to the visitors' dugout at Tropicana Field and is often seen at Rays games.A...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Is ‘The Ray Tank’ a noun, or a verb?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Is ‘The Ray Tank’ a noun, or a verb?

The name of the Rays’ new blog, "The Ray Tank’’, inadvertently took on new meaning for fans following the departures of Jake Odorizzi and Corey Dickerson this past weekend.Rick Stroud has the latest from Port Charlotte in his latest podcast, as Kevin...
Published: 02/20/18
Ray Tank: Fans have fun with name of team’s new blog

Ray Tank: Fans have fun with name of team’s new blog

Rays fans upset about the team's recent moves found the perfect target for their ridicule Monday when the team announced the name of its new blog.The Ray Tank.Announcing... The Ray Tank!Our new blog will have behind-the-scenes stories, photos, and mo...
Updated: 7 hours ago