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Tampa Bay Rays reliever Kyle Farnsworth has another injury scare

KISSIMMEE — Reliever Kyle Farnsworth's weird week continued Thursday with an injury-shortened outing against the Astros.

On Monday, the right-hander hyperextended his left knee while fielding a bunt before finishing the inning. On Thursday, Farnsworth lasted just one pitch before another scare. In trying to field a comebacker, Farns­worth spun and his right spike hit the same spot on the back of the knee.

"It felt like it was on fire," he said.

Farnsworth, pulled from the game as a precaution, walked off the field and felt fine afterward, saying he could have stayed in. He likened it to hitting a "funny bone," aggravating a nerve.

But it wasn't funny to manager Joe Maddon, who wasn't going to take any chances with a veteran expected to pitch in late-inning situations. He said he was in the bathroom when Farns­worth got hurt, walking out to find assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker by his side.

"I see him lying out there. He's holding his leg," Maddon said. "I just didn't want to chance fate."

Farnsworth, 34, appeared confident he'll be ready to go today. He smiled and said, "I'll go two (innings) to make up for it."

WADING IN: RHP Wade Davis felt — and looked — a lot better during Thursday's 94-pitch outing in which he lasted into the seventh and allowed one earned run. Davis, charged with three runs and six hits, said his legs were back under him after having the flu last time, and he threw all his pitches for strikes.

Davis specifically pointed to his changeup, which he said was the best it had been in a long time.

"I liked how he developed a rhythm about himself," Maddon said. "The tempo got better as the game got deeper."

MEDICAL MATTERS: Maddon said C John Jaso, struck in the groin by a foul tip Saturday, is still sore, and it's uncertain when he'll return. It's possible Jaso won't play until next week, but Maddon said the team still expects him to be ready for opening day. If not, Maddon said Jose Lobaton is a "good candidate" to replace him temporarily.

Lobaton, 26, a rookie who is hitting .393 with a homer this spring, has impressed Maddon with his work defensively.

"His dealing or handling with the pitching staff has been impressive," Maddon said. "He has been making well-timed trips to the mound. I think he's showing imagination calling the game. And he's also swinging the bat well. But my bigger concern would be the defensive side of things, and I like what he's doing there right now."

Opponents: The Orioles, whom the Rays open with April 1-3, said RHP Jeremy Guthrie and LHP Brian Matusz will start their first two games. They have not decided among RHP Chris Tillman, RHP Brad Bergesen and rookie LHP Zach Britton for the third game.

GAME DETAILS: CF Sam Fuld hit his first homer of the spring for the Rays (13-12-1), a two-run shot, in an 11-3 win over the Astros. INF Elliot Johnson picked up two hits and three steals.

MINOR MATTERS: Three relievers pitched in a Triple-A game on the back fields. RHP Joel Peralta struck out one in 11/3 innings, and RHP Rob Delaney threw a scoreless inning. But RHP Adam Russell continued his spring struggles, giving up two runs on three hits with a walk in one inning (including two strikeouts).

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Rays reliever Kyle Farnsworth has another injury scare 03/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2011 10:02pm]

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