Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett activated off disabled list, will start tonight

ATLANTA — SS Jason Bartlett was activated from the disabled list following Tuesday's game and will start tonight against the Braves.

To make room, OF Justin Ruggiano was optioned back to Triple-A Durham. Bartlett (right hamstring strain) was scheduled to DH for Durham on Tuesday, but the game was rained out.

HELPING HAND: Ben Zobrist saw first-hand the damage caused by the May floods in Nashville, where he lives in the offseason.

So when Zobrist heard about the wild story involving area 11-year-old Ishmael Arnold, he offered to help, inviting his family to be his special guests before today's game against the Braves.

When Ishmael's house was filling up with water, and he was on the verge of losing all his possessions, he swam back for one key item: his bag of baseball equipment. Ishmael's passion is baseball; he is a pitcher in the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program. Zobrist heard about Ishmael from a friend and arranged for his family to get tickets to today's game and visit the Rays before batting practice.

"It's obvious it was an extremely tragic flood for the whole area," Zobrist said. "The fact their house was going under water and I guess the idea of him really wanting to get his baseball stuff, I can relate."

Would Zobrist have done the same thing?

"I hope I would have gotten it before that point, when you're wading through water," he said. "But I'd definitely want to keep that stuff."

Zobrist, who visited Nashville on Monday's off day, said he was fortunate that none of his family or close friends were seriously impacted by the flood. He said the golf course across from his house was under water.

"It's harder when you go back and see the damage that was done," Zobrist said. "Anything I can do to brighten (Ishmael's family's) day, I think that's the least I can do really."

MEDICAL MATTERS: C Dioner Navarro (stiff neck) said he's ready to play. He said a cortisone shot taken Sunday, plus the Monday day off, helped a lot, allowing him to take early batting practice Tuesday and catch in the bullpen.

Manager Joe Maddon said though he won't rush Navarro into catching a full nine innings, he feels comfortable using him. Maddon said he liked carrying three catchers, saying they have "two really offensive catchers," which can help give them more options in pinch-hitting, especially in interleague play, and that "three catchers won't lock us down, because we have so much versatility in other areas."

WADING IN: Rookie RHP Wade Davis said things he figured out in his last outing, arguably his best of the season, have him feeling good about tonight's start.

Davis, who gave up three runs over seven innings against the Blue Jays, said he was more aggressive, had more conviction with his stuff and was able to repeat his delivery better, important in fastball command.

FAMILIAR FACE: Braves INF Eric Hinske, a Ray in 2008, said he's enjoying his first year in Atlanta and hopes to continue his streak of being a member of a World Series team the past three seasons (also the 2007 Red Sox and 2009 Yankees.

"I've been having fun here, a lot of fun," Hinske said. "It's pretty similar to the clubhouse feel of the '08 Tampa team. Everybody is happy to hit the field every day, we're going to dinner on the road, 15-strong sometimes ."

DRAFT BREEZE: Second-round pick Jacob Thompson, a Long Beach State RHP, said he plans to sign with the Rays today at Tropicana Field. … The Rays announced they had signed five more draft picks: 13th-round 2B Robby Price (Kansas), 16th-round RHP Nate Garcia (Santa Clara University), 19th-round CF Craige Lyerly (Catawba College, N.C.), 30th-round 3B Nicholas Schwaner (University of New Orleans) and 32nd-round OF Bryan Fogle (Erskine College, S.C.).

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett activated off disabled list, will start tonight 06/15/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 2:25am]

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