Monday, December 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays' Sean Rodriguez punches locker, breaks hand in minors

ARLINGTON, Texas — Though sent down to Triple A for a short stint until Saturday's roster expansion, INF Sean Rodriguez still figured to get considerable playing time for the Rays in September and possibly the playoffs.

But Rodriguez's season may be over after he fractured his right hand punching a locker in frustration following Sunday's game at Durham.

"Definitely the dumbest thing I've ever done," Rodriguez said by phone.

The extent of the fracture, and length of Rodriguez's absence, should be known today after an exam in St. Petersburg by team hand specialist Dr. Doug Carlan.

Rodriguez said he is confident the break, which showed up on an X-ray, is not severe since he has been able to move his hand, and he hopes to be able to return to action soon.

"I'm hoping I'm ready in a week," Rodriguez said. "I don't think it's as bad as it seems."

Rays manager Joe Maddon didn't know all the details but sounded disappointed while talking about Rodriguez's potential role following his planned Saturday recall.

"It was all set up and everything was there," Maddon said. "It's just unfortunate this happened. Especially against left-handed pitchers, he's a big part of what we do here. Maybe it's not as bad as I'm hearing, but then again it could be and he may end up missing the rest of the season. I'm just not sure."

Rodriguez refused to say what prompted the uncharacteristic outburst, only that it involved a comment made after the game by a teammate, whom he would not identify. Rodriguez had had a good day, going 2-for-4 including a home run off the bull above the leftfield fence to win a steak dinner for himself and a fan.

"I didn't want it to escalate, so I took my frustration out this way," he said. "It was a bad idea."

NIEMANN READY: RHP Jeff Niemann rejoined the Rays, saying his right hand felt "10 times" better than it did Saturday when he was struck by a line drive during his fourth and final rehab start.

Niemann, out since mid May when he was struck by a line drive that broke his right leg, is planning to throw a bullpen session today, and if all goes well he will be cleared to return to active duty, though he won't be activated until Saturday.

Given how frustrated and concerned he was last Saturday night waiting for the X-ray results, Niemann didn't mind waiting a little longer.

"Right now I'm happy my hand feels good and I'm able to throw a baseball," he said. "I feel ready to go."

Maddon said the Rays were still working on a plan to get Niemann involved, though he made it clear RHP Alex Cobb will keep his rotation spot. "He's going to start," Maddon said.

Also, they've decided at this point to keep the rotation in order, with Cobb starting Wednesday, LHP Matt Moore Thursday and RHP Jeremy Hellickson Friday, all on an extra day's rest thanks to Sunday's day off. That could line Niemann up to pitch Saturday and allow LHP David Price and RHP James Shields to also get an extra day's rest. Maddon said part of the discussion is setting the rotation up for the rest of the month.

LINING UP: With the Rangers starting LHP Derek Holland, Maddon wanted as many right-handed batters as he could, so fielded a somewhat unusual — well, relatively — lineup, keeping Evan Longoria in the DH spot and using Jeff Keppinger at first and Elliot Johnson at third, his first start there since May 1. Longoria is set to be at third tonight with Luke Scott at DH vs. RHP Yu Darvish.

MISCELLANY: Double-A Montgomery C Mayo Acosta was put on the DL after his right ankle was fractured in a home plate collision Sunday. … Short-season Class A Hudson Valley had a nine-game winning streak snapped Monday.

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