Saturday, February 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays put returning Luke Scott at cleanup, but Evan Longoria remains sidelined

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays got another key cog of their lineup back Thursday when DH Luke Scott (back spasms) was activated from the disabled list and placed in the cleanup spot against the Tigers.

Scott, who missed 16 games, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and a walk in the Rays' 5-2 loss.

"It's time to get back out there," Scott said.

But it appears as though it's going to be a while before Tampa Bay can expect the return of 3B Evan Longoria (partially torn left hamstring), who still is shut down from baseball activities, manager Joe Maddon said.

"I don't think we're going to see a whole lot of advancement right now in the near future," Maddon said.

Longoria, out since May 1, appeared close to returning before experiencing discomfort June 18, the second game of his minor-league rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham.

"It definitely was a setback, there's no question about it," Maddon said. "It wasn't a good thing. It could be something that he could get over rather quickly; we just have to play it right, right now, but definitely not something we were looking for."

Ready to go: The Rays made it official, saying RHP Jeremy Hellickson (shoulder fatigue), will come off the DL and start Saturday. Hellickson, who missed two starts, will be followed by RHP Alex Cobb on Sunday.

ALMOST THERE: RHP Kyle Farnsworth (elbow strain) is expected to be activated from the DL on Saturday. Farnsworth felt good after back-to-back outings with Triple-A Durham on Tuesday and Wednesday, hitting 96 mph on the radar gun but saying he was most happy with his command of his breaking balls.

"Arm strength, it's probably like it would be coming out of spring training," Farnsworth said. "I'm hoping to get a couple miles an hour here and there. But there's never been any pain. Every step has been good."

Maddon said Farnsworth will continue to be used late in the game, though RHP Fernando Rodney will remain the closer.

MARQUEE MATCHUP: LHP David Price is no stranger to facing the game's top pitchers.

In a five-start span, Price has matched up with the Yankees' CC Sabathia, the Mets' R.A. Dickey, the Phillies' Cole Hamels, and, tonight, he gets his first showdown with Tigers RHP Justin Verlander, the reigning AL Cy Young and MVP.

"I love it," Price said. "It's just unlucky. It's fun. This is what you envision as a little kid, going up against somebody else's big guy and getting that win."

WAITING GAME: RHP Joel Peralta, serving an eight-game suspension for having pine tar on his glove, said he felt good pitching to INF Will Rhymes and Sean Rodriguez during a batting practice session Thursday in preparation for his Saturday return.

"I can't wait," Peralta said. "This has been the longest eight days of my career."

Peralta said he has kept sharp with a Tuesday bullpen session and Thursday's workout, and is breaking in a new glove.

"I'm just going to try to come back and do the best I can, that's all I can do," he said.

STANDING UP: RHP Jeff Niemann (broken right fibula) stopped using a scooter Monday, a big step that came six weeks after suffering his injury. Niemann has played catch from 60 feet a few times, though he is cautiously working to get his full range of motion back.

Said Niemann, "It's good to be standing up again."

LOOKING UP: RHP Chris Archer, who impressed in his two-start stint with the Rays, left for Triple-A Durham encouraged with his first taste of the majors.

"I know that I can complete here," he said. "Obviously I need to become more consistent, command my fastball better. But as far as dealing with adversity and getting hitters out and showing my stuff plays up here, all of that was accomplished."

MISCELLANY: The 14 hits RHP James Shields allowed tied a club record (Sept. 17, 2007, Edwin Jackson, at Angels). … Maddon said OF Sam Fuld (right wrist surgery) is close to starting a rehab assignment. … Durham OF/1B Brandon Allen is on the temporary inactive list due to a family matter.

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