Willy Aybar ready to go when added to Tampa Bay Rays' playoff roster

ST. PETERSBURG — When the Rays broke the news to Willy Aybar on Tuesday that he was being left off the roster for the division series, they told him to stay ready because something unexpected could happen.

And by Thursday morning it did, as the Rays added Aybar to the roster to replace Rocco Baldelli, then put him in the starting lineup, where he went 1-for-4 as the DH.

"This is something that's a manager's decision. We're players, we don't have nothing to do with that," Aybar said. "I felt great making the team; I have to play hard and have lots of fun."

Knowing there was a chance Baldelli wasn't going to be able to play, manager Joe Maddon had bench coach Dave Martinez — who speaks fluent Spanish — call Aybar on Wednesday night to alert him to the possibility.

"Like I told Willy when he wasn't on the roster, just keep your mind going, you never know what's going to happen, take your (batting practice, work on) your defense," Maddon said. "Willy was really good. He was very professional about it."

ON THE OTHER HAND: Maddon was asked if he were disappointed that C Dioner Navarro decided to go home as opposed to stay with the team and work out, as Aybar did and most other players do in that situation.

"I'm surprised," Maddon said, "and I'll leave it at that."

ON THE OUTS: Struggling 1B Carlos Peña was dropped from the lineup against tough Rangers LHP C.J. Wilson, as switch-hitting Ben Zobrist played first and right-handed rookie Desmond Jennings started in rightfield. Maddon said the Rays hatched the plan before the series and it was not in reaction to their opening game loss.

"Yes I was disappointed I wasn't in there, but I totally understand where Joe was coming from," Peña said. "I wasn't out there, but I was just trying to support my team. There's no negative feelings coming from my side."

Jennings said he didn't know he'd be making his sixth major-league start in a playoff game, but he figured it was a possibility with a left-hander on the mound. He went 0-for-2. "I thought I'd be like nervous, but I really wasn't," he said.

CATCHING ON: Nevin Ashley was sitting on the couch in his Evansville, Ind., home Tuesday night — recovering from the removal of some ingrown toenails — when he got a call from Rays minor-league operations director Mitch Lukevics.

Thursday he was sitting on the bullpen bench in uniform for Game 2 of the playoffs.

"It was a little bit surprising," Ashley said. "It's been great, especially getting that call, coming up here, witnessing October baseball. It's great."

With Navarro leaving the team after not being included on the playoff roster, the Rays summoned Ashley in the event they'd need a third catcher. He'll work out and travel with the team throughout the postseason. Ashley, 26, spent most of the season at Double-A Montgomery then was promoted to Triple-A Durham.

GETTING TOSSED: Maddon's fifth-inning ejection was the 44th in postseason play. The last was also at Tropicana Field, when Boston pitching coach John Farrell was tossed from Game 2 of the 2008 ALCS. The last manager to be ejected was St. Louis' Tony La Russa during the 2005 NLCS.

MISCELLANY: Pitching coach Jim Hickey took out the lineup card. … The Rays left after the game for Texas and will work out today at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. … Texas C Matt Treanor was the 16th player to be hit by a pitch twice in a postseason game.

Willy Aybar ready to go when added to Tampa Bay Rays' playoff roster 10/07/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 11:33pm]

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