UPDATE, 6:15: RHP Jeff Niemann said he is feeling "definitely a lot better" after a week of rest for his strained back and making "quality progress,'' but it sounds like he could be sometime into June before he rejoins the rotation. Niemann is likely 5-7 days from starting to play catch, then would spend a couple weeks on a throwing program and likely need to make one or two rehab appearances.
UPDATE, 6:10: Rays manager Joe Maddon said LHP J.P. Howell came through his Thursday night rehab appearance well despite a rough line 2/3 IP, 3 H , 4 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K) and is still on schedule to make a final appearance for Triple-A Durham on Monday and then rejoin the Rays next week, most likely Thursday in Toronto. ... When Howell comes back, he will now sport No. 74 in tribute to a friend who recently passed away. ... Sean Rodriguez got the start over Elliot Johnson at second tonight based on the matchup with Jeremy Guthrie, and because he had been working on some things to improve his swing vs. RHPs and Maddon wants to see it.
DEVELOPING: The Rays are readying for the second part of their home-and-home weekend series with the Orioles, and their third meeting of the season. In the first two series, the road team swept.
RHP Jeremy Hellickson will be on the mound for the Rays, and CF B.J. Upton on the sidelines as he serves the second game of his suspension.
Here is the Rays lineup:
Posted by Marc Topkin at 3:18:23 pm on May 13, 2011