Tampa Bay Rays pitchers will continue shagging flies

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays felt for Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Thursday while shagging flies in batting practice.

"It upset me," manager Joe Maddon said Friday.

"It's unfortunate," RHP Jeremy Hellickson said.

But that doesn't mean Rays pitchers will stop their pregame routine of chasing batting practice flyballs.

"Of course not. I don't want it to go away," Maddon said. "That's one of the ways they try to get into shape. If we want to stop doing that, then we're going to have to have every guy picked up on a daily basis by a limousine and brought to the ballpark. They're not a bunch of china dolls, and you can't lock them up. They're baseball players. They're having a good time. Part of it is conditioning. Part of it is routine."

RHP James Shields said he loves shagging flyballs. "It makes you feel a little athletic," he said, smiling. "If they need an extra outfielder, I'm good to go."

Considering batting practice can be boring for a pitcher, fielding the flyballs can be fun.

"If you have any anxiety, you get it out of you," LHP J.P. Howell said. "And it's a way to keep in shape other than being bored in the weight room doing it on the Elliptical (machine) or treadmill. It's definitely a good way to get some cardio in."

Howell said Shields, Hellickson and LHP David Price are among the team's best at shagging flyballs. Hellickson said Price "definitely has the most energy out there." RHP Kyle Farnsworth enjoys taking ground balls in the infield.

"We're out there pretty much every day doing it," Hellickson said. "You really don't hear about that (type of injury) ever."

Maddon said Rivera's injury was "very freakish," comparing it to when Angels 1B Kendrys Morales broke his left ankle jumping on home plate in a walkoff victory celebration in 2010.

"Stuff happens, and you can't understand why sometimes," Maddon said.

BACK TO BASICS: Maddon said Hellickson looked a lot more like the pitcher who won the 2011 American League rookie of the year award in his last start against the Mariners.

Hellickson said he threw 90 percent fastballs and changeups and only a handful of cutters in the no-decision. It was his first game without issuing a walk since Sept. 4. Hellickson had 32 walks and 29 strikeouts in his previous 10 starts. "It feels good to get back on track," he said.

Great scott: DH Luke Scott overtook 3B Evan Longoria for the team lead in RBIs with his two-run single Friday in the 7-2 win against the Athletics. Scott has 21 RBIs in 23 games this season after racking up 22 in 64 games last year with Baltimore. "He understands his swing," Maddon said. "He actually could probably be a very good hitting instructor at some point in his life."

mea culpa: With Price at 106 pitches entering the ninth and a six-run lead Friday, Maddon didn't want to extend him, especially considering Price threw 119 and 117 pitches in his previous two starts.

So Maddon turned to RHP Brandon Gomes, who struggled in allowing two hits, including a homer, and one walk, and hitting a batter. But Maddon took the blame. It was Gomes' first appearance since April 26.

"I've just got to get him out there more often to keep him sharper," Maddon said. "That's my fault."

RHP Joel Peralta finished the game with the first one-out save of his career.

MISCELLANY: A hit given to Mariners C Jesus Montero in the first inning Wednesday was changed to an error on Sean Rodriguez. That dropped Shields' ERA from 3.70 to 3.05. … OF Josh Sale, a 2010 first-round draft pick, was promoted from extended spring to Class A Bowling Green. … OF Sam Fuld will speak at All Children's Hospital Family Diabetes Day at 11 a.m. today in the outpatient care center across the street from the hospital, at 601 Fifth St. S, St. Petersburg. … Maddon will manage his 1,000th game for the Rays tonight.

Tampa Bay Rays pitchers will continue shagging flies 05/04/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 5, 2012 1:03am]

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