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Tampa Bay Rays' Reid Brignac strives to win back his shortstop job

TORONTO — Reid Brignac doesn't have the starting shortstop job back, or even a platoon share. But he is playing again somewhat regularly. Friday was his fourth start in the past six games for the Rays, and that alone is somewhat of a victory after his unexpected demotion to the minors.

"It's nice to be playing a little more again," he said, "and hopefully I can keep putting some good games together and keep pushing the issue, in a sense."

As upset as Brignac was to be sent to Triple A on July 22, he said the 2½ weeks in Durham helped clear his head and change his perspective. He had been increasingly frustrated, he said, given his poor performance and a resulting lack of playing time.

"I wasn't in the best state of mind," he said. "Now I've completely changed my mind-set and things. I'm happy to be here. I was happy to be here earlier. I was just a little upset — not necessarily upset, but disappointed in how certain things were unfolding. I'm over it."

Brignac said the primary change was "being a little kid again" and not worrying about things he couldn't control.

Manager Joe Maddon said he wasn't ready to give Brignac, hitting .193 at the time of his demotion and .187 (3-for-16) since, his job back. Instead, he frames it as an opportunity to see the improvements Brignac has made to his offensive game — bunting, hit-and-runs, moving runners — since being sent down while keeping Sean Rodriguez fresh and Elliot Johnson involved.

"It's good to get Reid more involved," Maddon said. "He's worked on the adjustments we've asked him to, and I think he's gotten better, so I think it's probably wise to get him out there and see what's going on."

UPTON BACK: CF B.J. Upton returned to the lineup for the first time since Monday, when he strained his right shoulder against the Tigers, saying the shoulder felt "good enough." Upton wasn't tested but said he could have made a throw if needed, and he expects to remain in the lineup.

UPTON GOING? Word was Upton was claimed on waivers this week by an unknown team and the Rays have until Monday afternoon to work a deal or pull him back. The Nationals have been considered most interested and could be the claimants, assuming Upton got by AL teams. No deal seems likely.

JASO SHOWS HIM: It wasn't quite Cleon Jones and shoe polish from the 1969 Mets World Series, but C John Jaso proved he was hit by a pitch on his elbow by showing plate umpire Bill Welke the bruise. The problem was that Jaso, whom Maddon jokes is built like rebar, didn't have immediate bruising. So after he pleaded his case, Welke said he was willing to wait to see the evidence, which surfaced after about a minute. "The truth prevailed," Jaso said.

BROADCAST NEWS: Rays radio man Andy Freed felt well enough to make the trip but is limited by laryngitis and targets a Sunday return. Todd Kalas, while doing pre-, in- and postgame TV, is joining Dave Wills for a few innings. "The doctor said if I force it, it could blow," Freed joked of his voice. "It's like an oblique."

PENNY'S TALE: Maddon said Tigers RHP Brad Penny called him Thursday morning to clarify his comments directed at Rodriguez during Tuesday's game. Penny told Maddon what he told reporters: He was upset with Rodriguez for cursing out loud, not for hustling too much, as Maddon and others had said. Maddon said he was satisfied with the explanation. "I don't call people liars," he said. "So that's what he told me to be true, then I believe it."

MISCELLANY: There were no issues Friday about this series from Hurricane Irene. The Rays' Durham and Class A Hudson Valley teams canceled games. … The Rays' complete pitching game was their team-record-tying 12th (2002).

Tampa Bay Rays' Reid Brignac strives to win back his shortstop job 08/26/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 27, 2011 1:25am]

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