MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays have determined that SS Reid Brignac is "not ready" to be an everyday player, manager Joe Maddon said, and will continue to limit his playing time to favorable matchups.
That helps to explain why Brignac — hitting .187, with three extra-base hits — didn't play again Tuesday against the Twins despite looking better at the plate the past few games in which he'd played.
"We're trying to get him back on solid ground where he's feeling good about his offense, so I really want to put him in situations that I think he has a better chance to be successful with," Maddon said. "Him and (hitting coach Derek Shelton) have done a lot of great work. … I know I'm seeing better. But I don't want to retard the development by putting him in situations that I don't think are good for him right now."
That means Brignac, a lefty swinger, will go four games without starting: Monday and today against lefties, and Sunday and Tuesday against righties against whom Maddon didn't think he matched up well (St. Louis' Kyle Lohse, Minnesota's Scott Baker). He is likely to play at least the first three games against the Yankees beginning Thursday.
"The cards have been bad cards for him right now," Maddon said.
Brignac, 25, said he has been gaining confidence at the plate and was surprised to not be in Tuesday's lineup. "I'm feeling great. I'm playing good. I don't know," he said, measuring his words. He was expected to be the full-time replacement for traded Jason Bartlett, but his season has been frustrating and disappointing all the way around. "We gave him every chance to be that guy, and it just wasn't working out that way," Maddon said.
LONGO SORE: 3B Evan Longoria ran tenderly early in Tuesday's game when a nerve problem (Morton's neuroma) in his left foot reoccurred but said it won't cause him to be sidelined. "Every once in a while I take a bad swing and it just acts up,'' he said. "I've gotten used to it. It's something I'm going to battle through, and it's not going to affect playing time.''
DISCIPLINE DEPT.: MLB officials are still reviewing and considering additional discipline stemming from Friday's ejections of LHP J.P. Howell and Maddon. Both are likely to get fined but say they don't expect suspensions. "I'm a regular contributor," said Maddon, who has been tossed four times this season, 20 overall as a Ray.
STARRY-EYED: INF/OF Ben Zobrist was last among the five candidates on the online ballot for the final spot on the AL All-Star roster as of Tuesday afternoon, with Chicago's Paul Konerko leading. Voting continues until 4 p.m. Thursday. With three or four of the 13 AL All-Star pitchers expected to replaced on the roster, Maddon continues to stump for RHP Kyle Farnsworth to be added. "I want to believe that Kyle's got a pretty good shot at that," he said.
PITCHING IN: LHP David Price said he could still start July 16 in the second game after the All-Star break — and thus face the Red Sox, then the Yankees, as the Rays plan — unless he was used excessively in the July 12 All-Star Game. "It would just depend on how much I threw," Price said. Maddon said they were still considering different scenarios and it wasn't automatic that RHP James Shields, who won't pitch in the All-Star Game, would pitch the first game, July 15.
MISCELLANY: Shields on Tuesday notched his team-record ninth and 10th pickoffs, most by a righty, per Stats Inc., since Jack McDowell had 13 for the 1993 White Sox. … All-Star OF Matt Joyce hoped to be in the home run derby but was not picked. … Zobrist tied his career high with his 28th double. … The Rays will work out at the Trop on July 14, the day before resuming play July 15 vs. Boston.