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Tampa Bay Rays' Rich Thompson victimized by rookie's veteran play

CLOSE TO RETURN: Desmond Jennings, slapping hands with third-base coach Mark Foley, says he “felt good enough to play.”

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

CLOSE TO RETURN: Desmond Jennings, slapping hands with third-base coach Mark Foley, says he “felt good enough to play.”

BALTIMORE — The Rays brought up OF Rich Thompson to provide speed on the bases.

But the 33-year-old rookie's aggressiveness cost them in the ninth inning of Wednesday's loss.

Thompson came around third hard on Evan Longoria's slow roller, figuring he'd break for home as O's rookie 3B Manny Machado threw to first. But Machado faked his throw and flipped the ball to SS J.J. Hardy, who had circled in behind Thompson and caught him off third to kill the Rays rally.

"I certainly didn't have that scenario in the back of my mind,'' Thompson said.

Third-base coach Tom Foley saw it developing, yelling, "Behind you, behind you," and pointing to the base, but it was too late for Thompson to adjust. "I couldn't break it down and get back quick enough,'' he said. "That was a pretty big point in the game. If I would have picked up Foley soon we would have had first and third.''

Machado, the 20-year-old promoted from Double A, said it was purely instincts taking over.

"I was trying to get Evan out to be honest, but then when I came up I saw I had no chance so I did a pump-fake and tried to deke the runner,'' he said. "It just came out. I didn't think about it.''

JENNINGS UPDATE: LF Desmond Jennings' previously stiff back is feeling better. That much he and the Rays agree upon.

Jennings showed up expecting to play Wednesday but instead sat out his fourth straight game as the Rays wanted him to instead go through a full workout and wait another day, with manager Joe Maddon saying he could be back in the lineup today.

"It's just a little bit of over-caution on our part," Maddon said.

MORE MEDICAL: 2B Ryan Roberts came in early to test the strained left forearm that forced him from Tuesday's game in a workout and felt good enough to be back in the lineup. … Maddon said he'll wait to see how Longoria feels this morning before deciding whether to use him at third or DH. … INF Sean Rodriguez (fractured right hand) is set to be activated off the DL when eligible Saturday.

PITCHING IN: LHP David Price felt good the day after his bullpen session and was officially named the starter for Friday; he missed his last start due to shoulder soreness. … Rookie RHP Chris Archer, being held out of action as a backup to Price, is in line to make a start on the next homestand, Maddon said.

CATCHING ON: C Jose Molina started his fourth straight game, behind the plate for the first time this season for such extensive duty. "He's playing really well, he's catching really well, his offense has gotten better, the off days have helped, the weather's been good," Maddon said.

MINOR MATTERS: Short-season Class A Hudson Valley beat Tri-City (Astros) 5-2 to send the N.Y.-Penn League championship series to a third and decisive game. … Per the Poughkeepsie Journal's Sean T. McMann, the Rays extended their agreement with Hudson Valley through 2014.

ON SCHEDULE: The Rays open the 2013 season at home April 2 vs. Baltimore, and under the revised format (with 15 teams in each league as Houston goes to the AL) play 19 games against each AL East opponent (up from 18) and 20 interleague games (up from 18). Though there is interleague play throughout the season, the Rays' first series isn't until May 3-5 (at Colorado) and their last is Aug. 9-11 (at Los Angeles, first ever trip to Dodger Stadium). See the full schedule at tampabay.com/blogs/rays.

MISCELLANY: B.J. Upton hit his eighth leadoff homer. … RHP Alex Cobb said he wasn't comfortable from the start and his pitches were up. … Sun Sports is not televising today's game, though the team is hosting a watch party (with the Orioles' feed) at Lykes Gaslight Square Park in downtown Tampa, starting at noon.

Tampa Bay Rays' Rich Thompson victimized by rookie's veteran play 09/12/12 [Last modified: Thursday, September 13, 2012 1:07am]
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