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DESPITE NUMBERS, CAMP SURPRISED BY DEMOTION

RHP Shawn Camp knew, without being reminded of a 7.20 ERA and .368 opponents' average that rank among the majors' worst, that he had been pitching poorly.

But he was still surprised Saturday when the Rays optioned him to Triple-A Durham.

"I was be-cause in my mind I feel like I'm an established major-league pitcher and I know I belong here, but that's obviously not the direction the organization is going in at this moment," he said.

Manager Joe Maddon said the Rays hoped pitching under less pressure at Durham would allow Camp to regain command and confidence. Camp, who said his arm is healthy, sounded like he had a lot to work out.

"It's like one of those situations where you walk into a dark room and didn't know where the light switch is," he said. "That's how I feel."

SORE C.C.: The Rays are giving Carl Crawford action figures to kids today, but the All-Star leftfielder may need super healing powers just to be in the lineup. Crawford will be re-evaluated today after missing Saturday's game with a sore right wrist he injured diving for a ball the night before.

CROWDED HOUSE: Most of them were Red Sox fans, but the Trop was sold out again with a crowd of 36,048. Under reduced capacity this season, the Rays have had four sellouts. They had four total in their first nine seasons.

MIDDLE MAN: Ben Zobrist, the Rays' opening day shortstop, rejoins the team today as something of a utility infielder.

Zobrist, sent down after hitting .159 through 19 games, hit .273 with seven homers and 22 RBIs for Durham. Zobrist replaces traded Ty Wigginton and the Rays will decide how best to deploy Zobrist, SS Brendan Harris and 2B Josh Wilson.

"We'll see some competition and split up the playing time according to how Joe and his coaches see fit," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said.

UNUSUAL CHARACTER: New reliever Grant Balfour sounds different than most major-leaguers because of his Australian accent. But he also stood out by what he said: He welcomed the trade to Tampa Bay as he didn't get much of a chance in Milwaukee.

"I'm very happy to be here and I think it's a great opportunity," he Balfour said. "I even spoke to my father (Friday) night in Australia and we said, 'Look at Detroit a couple years ago and look where they are now.' "

MISCELLANY: Balfour is the Rays' 22nd pitcher this season; the team record is 25. He is wearing No. 50. ... The seven-game losing streak coming in was the Rays' second-longest this year.

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