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Tampa Bay Rays reliever Kyle Farnsworth hyperextends left knee, says he's fine

No stress: Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton and coach Bobby Ramos share a light moment in the dugout during the 3-1 spring victory over the Yankees.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

No stress: Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton and coach Bobby Ramos share a light moment in the dugout during the 3-1 spring victory over the Yankees.

PORT CHARLOTTE — RHP Kyle Farnsworth said he felt okay after hyperextending his left knee in the fifth inning Monday against the Yankees.

But with all the uncertainty surrounding the bullpen this season, the sight of Farnsworth appearing hurt and attended to by assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker was scary for the Rays.

"I was really concerned," manager Joe Maddon said.

Farnsworth, expected to be a key late-inning option, raced to his left to field a bunt. After the play, he bent over near the first-base line with discomfort in the back of his left knee.

Maddon came out to visit, along with Harker. But after Farnsworth threw a couple of warmup pitches, he looked and felt fine and finished his scoreless inning. Said Maddon: "He said he got a little bit upset and threw the ball even better."

Farnsworth was encouraged there was no swelling and plans to take it day by day. "Just a little twinge, I guess," he said.

ON POINT: RHP Jeremy Hellickson looked good in throwing four scoreless innings against a Yankees lineup that had Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano.

The 48-pitch outing, in which Hellickson allowed three hits, was encouraging as his hamstring felt good and his blister was not a factor. He said all of his pitches were working, including his curveball, which he had struggled with earlier in the spring.

Maddon liked Hellickson's command and said he's on pace to be stretched out enough to be at full go when the season starts.

NO WORRIES: CF B.J. Upton said it was "comforting" to see the Rays have his back Sunday when Maddon summoned security to remove a fan — wearing an Orioles jersey — who he said was yelling racist comments at Upton in the dugout.

Upton had struck out in the sixth and was headed to the dugout when he heard the comment.

"I was too busy worrying about the slider I swung and missed at out of the zone," Upton said. "I heard what he said, but I wasn't really worried about it. For me to turn around and see all those guys on the top step defending me, it's pretty cool."

Upton said it's not uncommon to hear racial remarks from the stands. "You hear it all the time," he said. "I hear things like that in the outfield, in some places. But I think (Sunday) was just an instance where more than one person got to hear it, not just me."

MEDICAL MATTERS: OF Matt Joyce was scratched from Monday's lineup due to mild back tightness but "fully expects" to play today against the Red Sox. Joyce said it was minor, and if it were a regular-season game, he would have played.

C John Jaso, struck in the groin area with a foul tip Saturday, is getting better but will still be out three or four days.

GAME DETAILS: C Kelly Shoppach hit a solo homer (off a right-hander) and threw out two runners in a 3-1 win over the Yankees in front of a sellout crowd of 7,786. 1B Dan Johnson also homered (off a lefty) for the Rays (10-12-1).

LINING UP: With Ben Zobrist expected to be the main leadoff hitter against right-handers, Maddon said he might consider using the switch-hitter in the top spot against lefties but for now likes Upton in that role.

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

Tampa Bay Rays reliever Kyle Farnsworth hyperextends left knee, says he's fine 03/22/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 12:16am]
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