NEW YORK — With a severe flu bug ravaging the Red Sox roster over the past week, the Rays are taking some precautions as they head into Fenway Park for a four-game series.
Most notably, they are buying two Synexis biodefense high-tech air filtration units to be placed in their clubhouse, similar to systems they have at the Trop and in Port Charlotte, providing microbial reduction.
Though the issue is more prevalent in the Red Sox clubhouse, which has been disinfected several times, the Rays are concerned about germs from stadium workers who shuttle between the two rooms.
The Rays are also reminding players and staff to wash their hands frequently and avoid contact with Red Sox personnel. RF Mookie Betts, 1B Hanley Ramirez and LHP Robbie Ross Jr. are among the players who have been sidelined, along with TV broadcaster Dave O'Brien.
Number of the day
11 Consecutive losses by Rays RHP Chris Archer to the Red Sox, whom he faces tonight, longest skid vs. Boston since Floyd Banister also lost 11 from 1982-86.
Smith leaves game
Speedy LF Mallex Smith left Thursday's game with tightness in his right hamstring that popped up and caused him to pull up as he was in a rundown trying to get to third base after a Jesus Sucre RBI single. "I don't think this will keep me sidelined too long, but I've just got ot see how it feels (today)," he said. "That'll tell me a lot more." Smith, a catalyst during the first two weeks, had reached on an infield single. Manager Kevin Cash pointed out, "They're tricky things, especially when you're taking about a guy that really relies on speed."
Smith , who was replaced by Peter Bourjos, who homered in his first at-bat, seemed likely to be headed back to the minors next week when OF Colby Rasmus is expected to come off the DL. But if Smith himself ends up on the DL, the Rays may have to get creative, at least for a few days. Rasmus, completing his recovery from two off-season surgeries, is not considered ready and still slated to play rehab games over the weekend. And the only two position players on the 40-man roster are C Curt Casali and prospect SS Willy Adames.
• 1B Rickie Weeks was "sore" but said to be available off the bench if needed the day after a rough collision at the base with OF Brett Gardner that Yankees GM Brian Cashman said looked as if "two Mack trucks collided.'' Weeks has a bone bruise in his right shoulder and some neck stiffness. Gardner, who similarly was out of the lineup but available, had a bruised jaw and strained neck. "I'm a little banged up, a little sore, but I'm pleased that it's not any worse and thankful that I escaped serious injury," Gardner said. "It was a pretty good collision. He's not really the softest guy to collide with; I didn't pick the right guy to run into."
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• OF Colby Rasmus, sidelined a week after an outfield collision in his first rehab game, is expected to get back on the field this weekend, with plans to be activated early next week. The Rays are deciding whether to have him rehab with the Class A Stone Crabs, Double-A Montgomery or Triple-A Durham.
Quote of the day
"I don't believe in that — unless I'm shot.''
Rays 1B Rickie Weeks, on the possibility of going on the DL, which he actually has six times for less traumatic reasons.
X marks the spot
LHP Xavier Cedeno said it was his fault for not double checking to see where the middle infielders were positioned during a critical juncture in Wednesday's game against the Yankees, though he had been given a sign from them they would be at double-play depth. As a result, he was surprised to see they were playing in when he fielded a comebacker, then ended up rushing an errant throw to first that led to the go-ahead run. "I totally take the blame; I should have stepped off the rubber and looked back to see,'' he said.
• There was yet another extension, until 7 tonight, in talks to keep Rays games, via Fox Sports Sun, and those of the MLB teams on Fox regional networks, on Spectrum cable systems.
• RHP Nathan Eovaldi, out all year recovering from Tommy John surgery, came north to get a checkup — and a good one — by surgeon Dr. Christopher Ahmad, the Yankees' team doctor.
• With the team not expected to get to its Boston hotel until 2 this morning, Rays RHP Chris Archer traveled ahead, by train, to get a full night's rest for tonight's start.