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REMORSEFUL SALAS RETURNS FROM SUSPENSION

Reliever Juan Salas rejoined the Devil Rays Tuesday saying he was surprised and shocked to test positive for a performance-enhancing drug and did not intentionally take any banned substances.

Salas, making his first public comments on the subject, suggested the positive test was the result of some type of drink, such as a supplement or energy drink, he had in his native Dominican Republic before spring training.

"It was an accident," he said in Spanish, with bullpen coach Bobby Ramos translating. "I was not aware. I didn't do it knowing what was going on. It must have been something in a drink. I don't know."

Salas, thus far the only big-leaguer to be caught this season, said when he was told of the violation: "I was totally shocked that happened. ... I've been in the game for a while and I never had this kind of problem."

Salas said he felt "bad" about making "a mistake" but was not as concerned about what fans think as he was for not being able to be contribute to the team during his 50-game suspension that started May 7.

"The thing I really regret is that I was not able to help the team the two months I was out," Salas said. "Everything else I can live with."

Before addressing the media, Salas had a brief meeting with executive vice president Andrew Friedman and public relations vice president Rick Vaughn.

Manager Joe Maddon said he planned to talk with Salas, whom he will try in the troublesome seventh-inning role, but was not looking for an apology and didn't think teammates would be resentful or judgmental for what in theory was cheating. Indeed, Salas was greeted warmly by several teammates when he arrived.

"I think he's a fine young man and I'm sure at some point he indicates some form of remorse for what he has done," Maddon said. "It's over."

HAMMER TIME: On Saturday, the Rays thought Jason Hammel needed some time in the minors to transition from relieving back to starting.

But after seeing J.P. Howell pitch poorly and Jay Witasick get hurt (allowing Hammel to be recalled), they decided the lanky right-hander was ready after all, and he will start Friday against Boston at the Trop. "I'm happy with it," Hammel said.

GOOD NEWS: Witasick said he hopes to come off the disabled list after the minimum 15 days following what he said he was a "best-case scenario" report on his strained right elbow by Dr. Koco Eaton.

"I'm most pleased with the fact that everything that's in there is connected," Witasick said. "We're going to give it a little bit of time to heal and as far as I know I'll be throwing in a couple days. I'm going to try and make it a quick exit - easy on and easy off. I don't want to drag this out."

MISCELLANY: Carl Crawford returned to the lineup and said his previously sprained left ankle felt "100 percent." ... The Rays hope lefty reliever Casey Fossum, who went home to Florida for the birth of his third child, will be back Thursday. ... If the Rays are trying to trade Ty Wigginton they are not making it easy for other teams to see him; Josh Wilson started at second for the fourth straight game. ... C Josh Paul remains on track to be activated from the DL Friday.

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