CLEVELAND — The Rays were looking forward to having OF Matt Joyce back in their lineup this weekend. But after he was forced to shut down his rehab due to back issues, they are now back to hoping he can return shortly after next week's All-Star break.
Joyce left a Triple-A Durham game on Wednesday after experiencing what he termed, via text message, "tightness and a little discomfort" in his left lower back.
Both Joyce and manager Joe Maddon said it was different than the left oblique strain that originally landed him on the 15-day disabled list, though Joyce acknowledged, "That's what I thought last time, so we'll see."
Joyce was headed back to St. Petersburg on Thursday night to be evaluated. Maddon said the word he got from the team medical staff, based on what it heard from Durham, was the stiffness was the result of Joyce sliding into second (on a failed steal attempt) and it was "nothing horrible."
"He's definitely not going to participate before the All-Star break," Maddon said. "So it's a setback in a sense but … it doesn't sound like it's awful."
Maddon said it is possible Joyce would be ready when the Rays resume play July 13 at home against Boston.
Joyce, who last played June 19, said: "At least we have the All-Star break to soak up some time."
MORE MEDICAL: INF Jeff Keppinger, who left Wednesday's game with a bruised left triceps after being hit by a pitch, said his arm was still swollen, but he felt better as the night went on and went into the game to play third in the eighth, and could have hit. … OF/DH Hideki Matsui, who left Saturday's game with left hamstring tightness, lined out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, though he would have been run for had he reached base.
FAMILIAR FACES: After spending last season with the Rays, OF/DH Johnny Damon and 1B Casey Kotchman ended up signing with the Indians.
Damon wanted to stay and was frustrated when the Rays instead signed Scott in an effort to boost their offense, saying Thursday "there wasn't going to be" a noticeable increase. Damon, 37, remained unsigned until mid April and said he almost retired rather than go elsewhere because the experience with the Rays was so "awesome." He added he isn't sure if he'll keep playing if he has to keep changing teams.
"You go through the year, and you build relationships. And then all of a sudden, the positive stuff that you do just gets kind of pushed aside," he said. "They made their decision, and unfortunately, we didn't have an opportunity to come back. So there's no hard feelings here. I just have to keep going out and play baseball."
Neither Damon nor Scott is doing much. Damon is hitting .212 with four homers, 17 RBIs and a .618 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 48 games. Scott, in 58 games, is at .194-9-36-.626.
"They wanted more power," Damon said. "So far, they've got it."
MISCELLANY: It was the first time in franchise history the Rays lost when allowing three runs on solo homers; they had been 7-0. … The Rays dropped to 4-13 against AL Central teams. … With the bench limited, reliever Burke Badenhop was in cleats for potential use as a pinch-runner; C Jose Lobaton was also a possibility. … The "play ball" kid before the game was TV analyst Brian Anderson's 7-year-old daughter, Rylyn Mae. Her mother won the opportunity at a Cleveland-area charity auction, and it just happened to be when the Rays were in town. … There is no TV coverage of Saturday's game.