ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays decided not to wait to see how SS Jason Bartlett felt today, instead deciding Thursday night to put him on the 15-day disabled list and bring C Kelly Shoppach back early from his rehab.
Bartlett said after Wednesday's game in Toronto his strained right hamstring was feeling better and he planned to test it this afternoon. But the Rays decided not to wait, with Shoppach, a right-handed hitter who played his fourth game for Triple-A Durham on Thursday (two catching, two at DH), likely to be in the lineup tonight against Texas LHP C.J. Wilson.
Shoppach was 4-for-13 in four rehab games, and he was scheduled to stay with Durham through Sunday. He had been out since April surgery on his right knee. His return gives the Rays three catchers, though Shoppach or John Jaso could be used occasionally as a DH.
INF/OF Dan Johnson, a lefty hitter, was another option.
Bartlett, who was injured Saturday, will be eligible to return June 15 in Atlanta.
HOT TIMES: For the Rays, this weekend in Texas is going to be about the heat, not the humidity.
Forecast highs of 98 today, 102 for Saturday and 104 for Sunday — with both weekend games in the afternoon — will make the difficult task of beating the Rangers even more of a challenge.
Or a matter of attrition.
"You can bake down there,'' manager Joe Maddon said. "The Saturday game being changed to an afternoon game — great that we're going to be on national TV (Fox), not so great I think it's going to be 100 degrees."
The Rays plan to take batting practice on the field before tonight's game but won't venture outside much before the matinees. "We'll just everybody as fresh as we can and work our way through it,'' Maddon said.
The two longtime Rangers now with the Rays say there isn't much you can do about it besides the obvious: drink fluids and stay out of the sun as much as possible.
"Hydrate yourself," reliever Joaquin Benoit said. "And keep yourself in the shade as long as you can.''
"My mind-set always was just to make sure you're hydrated and deal with it,'' INF Hank Blalock said. "There's no place to hide."
The only good thing, Maddon said, is that the Rays have days off on either side of the series.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT: The Tuesday and Wednesday comebacks were the first time in the Rays' 13-season history that they won consecutive road games in which they trailed through eight innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It also was the first time in the Blue Jays' 34-season history that they lost consecutive home games when leading after eight.
ALL-STAR EFFORTS: Three finalists were named for the Rays' representative in the All-Stars Among Us program, recognizing individuals who serve their communities in "extraordinary ways": Charles Castle (St. Petersburg, Burg Baseball), Christine Collins (Spring Hill, Pay It Forward Farm), Bill Criswell (Windermere, Home At Last program).
MISCELLANY: One matchup with closer Rafael Soriano to watch: DH Vladimir Guerrero is 5-for-9 lifetime against him. … RHP Matt Bush was reinstated from the DL at Class A Charlotte.