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Tampa Bay Rays send little-used pitcher Andy Sonnanstine to Triple A

NEW YORK — The Rays didn't have much use for RHP Andy Sonnanstine, who'd pitched one inning in the last 18 days and three over the last five weeks. So they decided Saturday to send him to Triple-A Durham and give him regular work as a starter.

Sonnanstine, 28, was said by several teammates to be upset by the move after spending all last season (except for a weeklong paper demotion) in the majors. The clubhouse was kept closed following Saturday's game until he left. OF Brandon Guyer was recalled and will be in the lineup today against Yankees LHP CC Sabathia.

"We want Sonny to get more time just to pitch," manager Joe Maddon said. "In the first half of the season, he started for us a bit, and since then, it's been really difficult to get him usage. So we're going to send him back to get him working again."

Sonnanstine, making $912,500, will fly home with the Rays after today's game and get a few days off, likely starting for the Bulls on Thursday or Friday. He was 0-2, 7.85 in four starts (all Rays losses) and had a 3.31 ERA in 10 relief appearances.

Guyer impressed by homering in his May 6 major-league debut, and the Rays are looking for a similar spark today against Sabathia. Maddon said they hadn't decided whether Guyer, hitting .318 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs for Durham, would be kept on the roster when they resume play after the All-Star break on Friday.

STARRY-EYED: The Rays' three All-Stars — RF Matt Joyce, LHP David Price and RHP James Shields — will leave for Phoenix after today's game.

The trip will be rewarding and exciting but also expensive. After talks over sharing a plane with the Yankees' All-Star contingent didn't work out and space on commercial flights was limited, the three Rays opted for a private jet for themselves and their accompanying family members.

But Joyce — the lowest paid of the three at $426,500, with a $10,000 All-Star bonus — said it will end up costing him about $7,000 to go. His share of the jet is $9,000, and MLB reimburses about $2,000 for the cost of a first-class flight.

"It's a tough situation," he said. "I don't feel like you should have to come out of pocket because it's kind of like an honor. You shouldn't have to pay to go, though if you asked me at the start of the year, I would have."

NEW DAY: Shields starts today relieved he won't have to deal with the hype of Derek Jeter's pursuit of 3,000 hits.

"At least I'm not going to be on the highlight reels for years to come," he said.

JOHNNY BE BACK: DH Johnny Damon made an unexpected return to the lineup when his bruised and swollen left hand felt significantly better.

The key was his special treatment Friday night. While out to dinner at Quattro in the Trump SoHo hotel, he kept the hand in a bucket of ice on the chair next to him. "He took the champagne out and (put) the hand in," Maddon said.

MISCELLANY: OF prospect Des­mond Jennings is expected to miss a couple of weeks with a slight fracture in his right index finger. … CF B.J. Upton hit his seventh homer in his last 14 games and 15th overall. … Class A Bowling Green RHP Victor Mateo threw a seven-inning no-hitter Friday.

Tampa Bay Rays send little-used pitcher Andy Sonnanstine to Triple A 07/09/11 [Last modified: Sunday, July 10, 2011 12:14am]
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