Rays' James Loney to miss 4-6 weeks with broken finger

OLD PALS: Lloyd McClendon, left, and Kevin Cash are the first to play in the Little League World Series then manage against each other in the majors.
OLD PALS: Lloyd McClendon, left, and Kevin Cash are the first to play in the Little League World Series then manage against each other in the majors.
Published May 26, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG — SS Asdrubal Cabrera, who has a mild groin strain, and OF Steven Souza Jr., who sprained his left wrist, are expected to return to the Rays lineup within the next few days.

But 1B James Loney will be out 4-6 weeks due to a fracture of his left middle finger, and the absence of his bat and glove is significant to their already depleted squad.

"That's probably the biggest blow," manager Kevin Cash said. "He's a guy that hits right in the middle of our lineup. We know he's going to be down for some time. We're going to have to call on some guys to help out and fill that void a little bit."

The short-term plan is to have 2B Logan Forsythe become the primary first baseman, with C Rene Rivera a potential fill-in. Rookie INF Tim Beckham, who had been sent down Friday, was called up to take Loney's spot on the roster and started at shortstop, but once Cabrera heals he is more likely to split time at second with Nick Franklin. (Because there was a DL move involved, the normal 10-day waiting period to be called back up is waived.)

INF/OF Jake Elmore was also called up to add versatility to the shorthanded bench, but since he took the spot that was used by the extra reliever, that could change pending bullpen usage. (Or the Rays could replace RHP Ernesto Frieri with a long reliever.)

Loney said he had no regrets about the play on which he was hurt Sunday, not for trying to steal third with two outs in the eighth down by four nor about sliding headfirst.

"You just regret how your finger went into the base," Loney said.

Loney said he knew Sunday night the finger was broken, leading to his second DL stint this season. He missed 15 April games with an oblique strain. "It was disappointing, it was unfortunate," he said.

None of the Rays' first-base options at Triple-A Durham are appealing: Allan Dykstra, who was up earlier, is hitting .136; J.P. Arencibia is hitting .195 with 44 strikeouts in 30 games (albeit with seven home runs); and Vince Belnome is on the DL.

Externally, Casey McGehee, just designated for assignment by the Giants, might be the top readily available option. Other possibilities could be Travis Ishikawa, also DFA'd by the Giants; Kila Ka'aihue, released from Triple A by the Nationals; or Garrett Jones, though that would require a trade with the Yankees.

Of the other two considered day to day, Cabrera's status seemed better defined. He said he felt better but was "still a little sore," was available to pinch-hit Monday and may be able to start tonight. Souza was not available to the media but was evaluated further during the game, and Cash said afterward he was "a little bit better than we could have hoped for.'' While not ruling out a longer absence, Cash said it also was possible Souza could play tonight.

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BECK BACK: Beckham had been hanging out at his Tampa home during the three days players have to report to the minors, booked on an 11 a.m. Monday flight to join Durham. But he got a call late Sunday telling him he was coming back to the majors.

"That was good news," he said. "Better news than me going to Triple A, of course."

Beckham said he was surprised to be sent down Friday, as he ranked among the Rays leaders in homers and RBIs. "That was the front office's decision between Cash and (baseball operations president Matt) Silverman and those guys," Beckham said. "I do what I can when I'm here, I give it my all, 110 percent as far as my numbers on the field go. As far as me staying up, as far as me going down, that's out of my reach. I can't control that."

MORE MEDICAL: LHP Matt Moore (Tommy John surgery) threw a bullpen session Monday and is set to make another extended spring training start Thursday, then likely move on to a rehab assignment. … LHP C.J. Riefenhauser (shoulder inflammation) moved up to Durham after one rehab appearance for advanced Class A Charlotte. … Adding to the depth concerns, Durham SS Hak-Ju Lee is out for at least a few weeks after his left hand was gashed on a play at second base and required stitches.

MISCELLANY: Monday marked the fourth time the Rays were in first place on Memorial Day, also 2008, 2010 and 2012. … CF Kevin Kiermaier's hwhitting streak ended at nine games; no Rays has gotten to 10 yet. … Double-A Montgomery LHP Blake Snell was named Southern League pitcher of the week despite allowing a run in his last start to snap his season-opening scoreless streak at 46 innings.