ST. PETERSBURG — Upset to be bumped from his last start, RHP Wade Davis is so eager to get back on the mound he has no pause about being matched up tonight against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez.
He welcomes it, actually.
"Is he pitching? Good. It's nice. I like that," Davis said. "You have to go out there with your best stuff. As soon as you give up a run or two, you many not win. You may not even keep your team in the game. So that's how you've got to treat it. I like when you're facing guys like him."
Davis should have dual sources of motivation.
He was unhappy, to put it politely, when the Rays decided after Sunday's rainout with the Yankees to push him back from pitching in Boston — though using James Shields, Jeff Niemann and David Price certainly worked out — and use him tonight on eight days' rest.
Manager Joe Maddon said Davis can make his case on the mound.
"I think Wade will be up to that challenge," Maddon said. "I know Wade did not like not pitching in (the Red Sox) series, so let's get out there against Seattle and let's show something there. I want to believe our guys feel that way."
Similarly, either Shields or Niemann on Monday will be matched up with Detroit's Justin Verlander, the favorite to succeed Hernandez as the AL Cy Young Award winner.
"I love it, absolutely love it," Maddon said. "I love facing good pitchers. It's gratifying when you win those kind of games, and you really get a good bounce out of it. You've got to beat the best guys; that's how you become the best. And I think our guys are pretty good, too. That's the point. If Verlander is going to face either Shields or Niemann, I think Detroit is saying the same thing about us."
WELL-RESTED: The tremendous starting pitching during the Boston series not only was impressive, but combined with Sunday's rainout and days off Monday and Thursday, it also was extremely beneficial.
Since Saturday, the bullpen has worked only one inning, Wednesday's ninth by Kyle Farnsworth, meaning all the other relievers have had at least five days' rest. RHP Joel Peralta, who leads the AL with 57 appearances, has had six.
"In the past I've always been concerned about this time of the year beating up a bullpen," Maddon said. "In 2009, I thought that was part of our demise, that the bullpen pretty much ran out of gas right around this time. So this little respite right now is absolutely necessary in a lot of ways and is just well-timed.
"The bullpen pretty much has a chance to recharge itself right now, and that's a good thing."
HIT MAN: INF Sean Rodriguez has been hit by pitches 12 times, two off Jonny Gomes' 2005 team record. Rodriguez said it's not a coincidence that he leads the Rays, with Kelly Shoppach next at six, because he literally takes them for the team.
"I don't like to move," Rodriguez said. "On-base percentage, you've got to find a way to contribute."
MISCELLANY: RHP Alex Cobb had what the Rays termed successful surgery Thursday in Dallas to remove a blockage in the subclavian vein (near his top right rib) and is due to return to St. Petersburg next week. … The Sept. 3 Miranda Cosgrove postgame concert was cancelled due to injuries she sustained in a recent bus accident. (Story, 2B) … The Rays made the Red Sox the 14th team in modern history to get three or fewer hits in three consecutive games at home, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.