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HAMSTRING SIDELINES ESCOBAR

SS Yunel Escobar left Wednesday's game against the Yankees before the seventh inning due to right hamstring tightness and is considered day-to-day.

Escobar, whose struggling bat has come alive this homestand, said he felt a "pull" or tightness when running to first on his sixth-inning single.

He said he has never had hamstring issues before but was pulled as a "precaution" and will be re-evaluated today in Chicago.

Escobar was the only Ray to play every inning of every game until the injury. He was replaced at shortstop by Ben Zobrist, who would likely fill in if Escobar has to miss any games.

NO WORRIES: Manager Joe Maddon admitted it was "unreasonable" to expect RHP Fernando Rodney to repeat his historic performance from a year ago, when he set a big-league record for ERA (0.60) for a reliever.

But while Rodney has scuffled, allowing four earned runs in 7 1/3 innings after giving up five all last season, neither he nor Maddon appear concerned. The closer bounced back from Tuesday's rough outing, giving up a hit but getting the final two outs for his third save.

Rodney says he's fine, and Maddon said his velocity- reaching 99 mph on Yankees RF Ichiro Suzuki's go-ahead two-run single Tuesday - is normal.

"He's going to be really good again - he has been good and you're going to see another very productive, high-end, among the best closers in baseball," Maddon said. "It's going to happen."

There were mitigating circumstances Tuesday, with Rodney entering in the middle of the inning with a runner on, something he has rarely done with the Rays. And it wasn't a save situation.

Yankees 2B Robinson Cano, who watched Rodney record the final out of every Dominican Republic victory in the World Baseball Classic, believes he'll bounce back. "I know he's a guy who is going to go back to what he was last year."

PRICE CHECK: Maddon, unaware that LHP David Price was disappointed he was pulled after one batter in the ninth inning Tuesday, respected the All-Star's sentiments but stood by his decision.

Maddon said Price would have stayed in had he retired Cano, who led off with a single. Maddon felt better with Rodney at that point, but it didn't mean he lacked confidence in the American League Cy Young Award winner, who bemoaned the fact the Rays are 0-5 in his starts this season.

"There's no question in my mind he's going to get really hot and carry us for a while," Maddon said. "There's a lot going on there, coming off a Cy Young Award year, and all the things that I'm sure he had to do in the offseason. ... Nobody is going to want to admit to the distraction, but I'm sure there was. I'm sure the mind is working a little bit differently from this point than maybe it had last year at the same time."

GREAT SCOTT: DH Luke Scott (calf strain), on a planned day off in his minor-league rehab, was at the Trop working out and hitting on the field. Scott said he felt good in his first game with Class A Charlotte, going 1-for-4 with an RBI single, though admitted his timing was a bit off. He'll play for Charlotte tonight and likely through Sunday before being re-evaluated.

STARRY NIGHT: The online fan balloting for the All-Star Game began Wednesday, with the Rays represented by 3B Evan Longoria, C Jose Molina, 1B James Loney, 2B Ben Zobrist, SS Yunel Escobar, OFs Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce and Kelly Johnson, and Scott (DH). Fans can vote at mlb.com, with in-stadium balloting at the Trop from May 6-June 16.

MISCELLANY: Price was presented with the 2012 Players Choice Award for American League outstanding pitcher before Wednesday's game. ... 3B Evan Longoria's team-high 10-game hitting streak and stretch of 34 games reaching base safely were snapped after he went 0-for-4. ... Top OF prospect Wil Myers went 2-for-4 for Triple-A Durham to improve to .328 and has reached base in all 17 of his games.

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