ST. PETERSBURG — DH Luke Scott was placed on the disabled list Saturday for the second time in just more than a month after an MRI exam revealed a mild right external oblique strain.
Scott left Friday's game after feeling back tightness during a check swing in a ninth-inning at-bat. Though both Scott and the Rays hope it can be a minimal 15-day stint, the injury often takes longer to heal. Scott, who also dealt with a hamstring issue earlier this season, missed 17 games in June with back spasms.
"It's been very, very tough," Scott said. "I used to just come into the training room to say hi to everybody. Now this past year, I've been spending too much time there."
The injury came at an inopportune time, as Scott was on a hot streak at the plate, collecting 10 hits in his past five games. He has a team-high 45 RBIs.
"The bad part is to lose him and losing him while he's making such a strong comeback," manager Joe Maddon said.
With Scott out, DH/OF Hideki Matsui will get more opportunities, despite being hitless in his past 15 at-bats. But Maddon said INF Jeff Keppinger will DH today to get him off his feet in the field.
Maddon said OF Sam Fuld (right wrist surgery) could rejoin the team for its series in Baltimore, which starts Tuesday.
NO WORRIES: RHP Alex Cobb, who left the game after the second inning with a lower right leg bruise, said he should be able to make his next start, especially with the extra off day.
Cobb said he felt "very fortunate" that Mariners RF Ichiro Suzuki's hard-hit grounder in the second hit "all muscle," right between his tibia and fibula, and X-rays did not reveal a fracture.
"It could have been a lot worse," he said.
Cobb was still able to make the play, charging the ball and underhanding a throw home as he fell to get the third out. But he was in obvious pain as he tried to get up and had to be helped off the field. "From then on, it was just throbbing," Cobb said.
Cobb had labored, taking 53 pitches to get six outs, but said he felt fine, lamenting a two-out walk in the first.
CLUTCH CESAR: LHP Cesar Ramos was recalled from Triple-A Durham to help save a taxed bullpen. That's exactly what he did, throwing four scoreless innings with a career-high six strikeouts to pick up the injured Cobb. Ramos was sent back down after the game, with the Rays expected to call up a fresh reliever today. Maddon said it would have been "nearly impossible" to cover had it not been for Ramos, whose four innings were his most as a reliever. "Cesar was kind of a hero in a baseball sense," Maddon said.
Ramos, who got the call from Durham manager Charlie Montoyo at 4:30 a.m. Saturday, said the key was throwing strikes, with Maddon saying "that's as good as I've ever seen him pitch."
"Even when I was a starter, I was never a big strikeout guy," Ramos said. "I was kind of surprised to have that many."
STANDING TALL: RHP Jeff Niemann felt great after throwing a 25-pitch bullpen session (all fastballs), his first since breaking his right fibula in mid May. He could return sometime from mid to late August.
CENTURY CLUB: Both CF B.J. Upton and his brother, Diamondbacks RF Justin Upton, hit their 99th career homers Friday. With one more before his Aug. 21 birthday, B.J. would become the eighth player in history to reach 100 homers and 200 steals before the age of 28. "It's very impressive," Maddon said. "He started out at a young age. The thing about B.J., his developmental path was so not good, the way he got here, the back and forth, and different positions and different managers and all of that stuff really would have confused anybody. But he's fought through it."
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.