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Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Wade Davis earns top rookie honors for July

ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Wade Davis' turnaround from an 0-5 June to a 4-0 July won him the American League rookie of the month award.

And if he were to start this month the same way in today's matinee, he'd net an interesting distinction for his team: having five starters with 10 or more wins in the first week of August.

"That would be very impressive," pitching coach Jim Hickey said.

As it is, the Rays are the only team with four. And only five teams have more than two: the Angels, Red Sox, White Sox, Twins and Yankees.

Davis wasn't the only Rays pitcher honored for his July work: Closer Rafael Soriano won the MLB delivery man of the month award after logging an MLB-best 11 saves while posting a 2.57 ERA. Soriano, who also won the May award, has 31 saves, matching San Francisco's Brian Wilson for most in the majors.

Davis, 24, leads AL rookies with nine wins and a .263 opponents average and is second with a 4.09 ERA, 91 strikeouts and 121 innings. He could end up a strong candidate for the AL rookie of the year award, competing with Detroit OFs Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch and Cleveland RHP Mitch Talbot.

He took news of the monthly award the same way he takes most everything else, which is to say with little reaction. "It's cool," he said. "It was a good month. Now I have to go out and win another one, or a couple more."

Hickey said he didn't get much more out of Davis when they talked during batting practice.

"I told him let's do the same thing in August and the same thing in September, and he was on the same page with that," Hickey said. "You know he's an extremely, extremely quiet and humble type of a guy, so he didn't really have much to say about it. But certainly I'm sure he's proud of himself and we're proud of him, too."

Davis is the fourth Ray to win the award, joining Rocco Baldelli (April and May 2003), Damon Hollins (May 2005) and Evan Longoria (June 2008).

PEÑA PENDING: 1B Carlos Peña showed enough progress with his right foot injury during a workout that the Rays say he could be available to pinch-hit today and return to the lineup by Saturday in Toronto, though perhaps limited to DH duty.

Peña has been sidelined since leaving Saturday's game with what has been diagnosed as a slight tear in the plantar fascia ligament. He said the doctors told him the injury can't be made worse, so recovery is primarily a matter of pain tolerance.

"Now it's all about mind over matter," he said. "I'm going to keep on pushing it and see how far I can do without passing out."

Peña has been adamant that he wouldn't need to go on the 15-day DL, and manager Joe Maddon concurred, barring a setback. "It looks like it's trending in the right direction," he said.

GETTING RELIEF: Tuesday night's work gave the Rays an AL-best 3.12 bullpen ERA, and Maddon is planning cautious handling to ensure the relievers — specifically setup man Joaquin Benoit (an MLB-best 0.70 ERA) and Soriano, who got Wednesday off — stay strong.

"It's incumbent upon me as a manager and us working internally to make sure that we don't abuse that," he said. "We have two regular-season months left, and we have another hopeful month of (postseason) play … and I really have got to be careful how I use these guys coming down the road now.

"We're in a pretty good position, and you don't want to lose that position, but, again, you've got to be smart about how you use these guys."

MISCELLANY: LF Carl Crawford failed to get the triple he needed to join Ty Cobb as the only players with 400 steals and 100 triples before age 29. … Ben Zobrist returned to the lineup at first base after missing 6½ games with a stiff back. … The start of the game was delayed 16 minutes when a lightning strike near the Trop knocked out some of the lights. … On Rocco Baldelli Moustache Night in Port Charlotte, Baldelli was 2-for-4 for the Stone Crabs.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Wade Davis earns top rookie honors for July 08/04/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 5, 2010 1:58am]

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