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Tampa Bay Rays say they'll continue to work with struggling pitcher Wade Davis

MINNEAPOLIS — Rays manager Joe Maddon said it has been an "ongoing piece of work" trying to get rookie RHP Wade Davis going in the right direction.

And after Davis extended his winless streak to six starts with another rough outing Saturday — giving up four runs (including three homers) and eight hits over 41/3 innings — the question became whether the Rays would let him work through his issues in the big leagues or at Triple-A Durham.

"That's a fair question," Maddon said. "But we have not had that conversation. We want to get it done here. … He's been pretty good at times, and other times, you saw like (Saturday), that's happened twice in the last three or four starts. We've got to get beyond that moment."

Meanwhile, the Rays' top pitching prospect, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, is 10-2 with a 2.35 ERA with the Bulls.

Davis said he feels good physically and is comfortable with his command. But he acknowledged that he made a couple of mistakes Saturday, and the Twins made him pay. One of the biggest mistakes came on an 0-and-2 pitch to Justin Morneau in the third. Davis said he tried to throw a slider inside and it saw too much of the plate, resulting in a two-run homer.

"I think part of it is gamesmanship, really knowing what to do in certain situations," Maddon said. "I don't know that he truly understands that yet, but he will."

DOES IT ALL: Ben Zobrist, who started Saturday's game at first base and ended it in rightfield, has continued to impress the Rays with his versatility. But the way Zobrist has played defensively in several spots has Maddon saying he could be a regular at nearly every position.

"I think he's grown into an everyday second baseman, an everyday rightfielder," Maddon said. "It looks like he can be an everyday centerfielder, which means he can be an everyday leftfielder. … Maybe an everyday first baseman. Shortstop, his original position, and third base would be the last two spots you want to put him (every day)."

LINING UP: CF B.J. Upton, back in the lineup after missing three games with a sore right quad, went 0-for-3 with a walk. He said he's confident the injury is behind him. … Maddon said 1B Carlos Peña was out of the lineup because LHP Francisco Liriano is particularly tough on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .173 average. Peña entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth.

STICK WITH IT: Though RHP James Shields said it has been tough going through his first seven-start losing streak, he has been encouraged by his mechanics and how he's feeling.

"I think he's thrown the ball well," Maddon said. "I think stuff-wise, he looks exactly the same except that I think his changeup is better. It's just one of those moments he's got to fight through. I know that he will."

THE NEW GUY: The Rays have signed free agent Yoel Araujo, a 16-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic. Araujo will participate in the fall instructional league and be assigned to the Rays academy in the Dominican Republic in 2011.

"We believe he can develop into a five-tool-type player," said Eddy Toledo, the Rays' director of operations in the Dominican.

The Rays didn't disclose deal terms. Baseball America reported that Araujo signed for an $800,000 bonus, a club record for an amateur signed out of the Dominican Republic.

MISCELLANY: The Rays' seven runs in the eighth Saturday tied the team season high for an inning. … OF Matt Joyce had the fifth pinch-hit grand slam in club history. … RHP Rafael Soriano picked up his 20th save in 21 chances. … Rays pinch-hitters have the most hits (20) and RBIs (21) in the American League this season.

Tampa Bay Rays say they'll continue to work with struggling pitcher Wade Davis 07/03/10 [Last modified: Saturday, July 3, 2010 10:23pm]
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