NEW YORK — At least part of RHP Wade Davis' problems have been due to tightness in his forearm, the Rays acknowledged Thursday by placing him on the 15-day disabled list with a strain.
Davis, according to manager Joe Maddon, shouldn't be out much, if any, more than the minimum and, because of the All-Star break, could miss only one start, two at the most. He was sent back to St. Petersburg for a visit with Dr. Koco Eaton, and the MRI exam results, according to Maddon, were encouraging.
"Nothing severe, nothing serious. We felt pretty good about it actually," Maddon said. "But there is definitely a strain there of some sort. And with that, it was best for us, we thought, to DL him right now. We don't think it's going to be a prolonged thing. It might even be a minimum thing regarding time."
RHP Brandon Gomes was recalled from Triple-A Durham to join the bullpen for now, though RHP Alex Cobb is expected to be called up to take Davis' spot in the rotation. Conceivably, the Rays wouldn't need a fifth starter until July 19.
Davis and the Rays have maintained he has been healthy throughout his inconsistent season — his first after signing a four-year, $12.6 million deal that with options could be worth almost $38 million over seven — including after Wednesday's five-inning outing in Minnesota.
But Maddon said Davis has been bothered by the forearm issue "for probably the last two-three starts," and "if you talk to him, he might say some more than that." Further, the strain has prevented Davis, 25, from throwing his slider, a key pitch in his arsenal.
Maddon said head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield seemed confident that a couple weeks of rest and treatment would be sufficient. Davis was to rejoin the Rays in New York, and further decisions will be made after he plays catch with Porterfield.
JOHNNY BE BETTER: DH Johnny Damon's left hand remained swollen and discolored Thursday, but it didn't hurt as much as expected, leaving him hopeful of returning to the lineup by Saturday.
"That's what we're shooting for," Damon said.
Maddon was a little more optimistic, saying there was a chance Damon could return tonight.
"It probably looks (worse) than it actually is based on the color," Maddon said.
The biggest issue the day after being hit by a Francisco Liriano pitch was a lack of strength.
"The problem is it's weak, like trying to open a water bottle, trying to open a door," Damon said. "That's where I feel the pain."
GOOD GOMES: Gomes was the obvious choice for promotion as the Rays fortified their bullpen. After spending most of May with the Rays (3.09 ERA in 10 games), he went back to Triple A and dominated, posting a 0.75 ERA (one earned run) in 12 innings over nine games, striking out 18.
"Just tried to work on some of the things we talked about up here before I left," Gomes said.
That included improving his delivery time and the addition of a Joel Peralta-style quick pitch.
STARRY-EYED: INF/OF Ben Zobrist finished last among the five candidates for the final spot on the American League All-Star roster (won by Chicago's Paul Konerko) but said a decent consolation prize was getting to spend the break at his Nashville home: "I felt honored that I was even on the ballot."
The chances for RHP Kyle Farnsworth to be added to the team, as Maddon has been pushing, diminished with Angels closer Jordan Walden — who was next highest on the players' ballot— named to replace Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who withdrew due to a sore right arm.
MISCELLANY: 3B Evan Longoria, bothered recently by a nerve problem in his left foot, was the DH in Damon's absence with Sean Rodriguez at third. … Zobrist reached base five times and has done so in seven straight at-bats overall, one shy of the team record. He was a double shy of joining B.J. Upton as the only Rays to hit for the cycle. … The Rays are 36-8 when scoring first. … Upton has six homers in his past 13 games.