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Tampa Bay Rays put Gabe Kapler on DL, call up Justin Ruggiano

ST. PETERSBURG — With OF Gabe Kapler's right hip sore and C Dioner Navarro's neck still stiff, the Rays figured they'd feel better having OF Justin Ruggiano's butt sitting on their bench.

Uncomfortable being short two players, and with SS Jason Bartlett's return from the disabled list pushed back to Wednesday, the Rays decided to make a move Saturday. Confident Navarro was likely to be ready sooner, possibly by Tuesday, they put Kapler on the DL and summoned Ruggiano from Triple-A Durham.

Kapler's injury — a flexor strain — was something of a surprise, even to manager Joe Maddon, who used him as a pinch-hitter Friday.

"I'm not exactly sure when or how it happened," Maddon said. "He's very secretive about stuff. Things have been bothering him a little bit."

Kapler was not at Tropicana Field. The Rays said he was seeing a doctor. Maddon talked of making sure "that he's well by the middle to end of the season," but Kapler is expected to be ready within three weeks.

Navarro was scratched Thursday and hasn't played — or even been seen much in the clubhouse — since then. Maddon said "there's a chance" of a DL stint but their thinking is he "probably or should be ready full go" by Tuesday.

If Navarro is ready and the Rays decide to stick with three catchers (allowing John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach to be used on occasion at DH), Ruggiano's stay could be short. He could end up going back down to make room for Bartlett.

Maddon indicated that was a possibility, saying that might even have factored into the decision to summon Ruggiano, who has 52 games' big-league experience, over top OF prospect Desmond Jennings.

Ruggiano was hitting .291 at Durham with four homers and 19 RBIs. Kapler is hitting .217 overall and .215 against lefties, which was supposed to be his strength.

BART REPORT: Bartlett told Maddon he felt great and was "ready to go" after going through hitting and running drills, figuring he'd rejoin the Rays on Tuesday in Atlanta as planned.

But the Rays want to be extra cautious and will have him play for Durham on Monday (seven innings at shortstop) and Tuesday (DH) at Gwinnett, the suburban Atlanta home of the Braves' affiliate.

Maddon's concern had more to do with the hot weather than Bartlett's leg, that dehydration could be an issue as "he's going to go from not playing at all to playing nine inning under those circumstances.'' This way, the two games will serve as a transition.

EVAN ALMIGHTY: Maddon called 3B Evan Longoria's run-saving diving stop of Mike Stanton's smash and throw from his knees "ridiculous" in a good way and said he doesn't know how he made the key sixth-inning play.

Neither exactly did Longoria: "I dove, and before I knew it, it was in my glove. … I figured I had to get rid of the ball as quick as I can, get it on the ground and see if I could roll it over there."

FUTURE STARS: The Hillsborough-Pinellas All-Star Game is at the Trop at 7:42 tonight. Tickets, which benefit the education foundations, are $10 for adults, $5 for students.

MISCELLANY: The Rays are the quickest team to 40 wins since the 2007 Red Sox. … They improved to 20-3 on concert nights. … INF Sean Rodriguez extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Longoria ran his streak of reaching base to 30 games, the longest currently in the majors. … Florida's Chris Coghlan (East Lake High) extended his hitting streak to 12 games (.520 average) and has reached eight times in the first two games. … Bartlett and RHP Joaquin Benoit will sign autographs from noon to 12:30 today.

Tampa Bay Rays put Gabe Kapler on DL, call up Justin Ruggiano 06/12/10 [Last modified: Sunday, June 13, 2010 1:10am]
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