Rays' Niemann fears worst

Injury-prone Rays reliever Jeff Niemann says of his sore right shoulder: “There’s a lot of bad-case scenarios out there.’’
Injury-prone Rays reliever Jeff Niemann says of his sore right shoulder: “There’s a lot of bad-case scenarios out there.’’
Published April 7, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG— There won't be an official course of action on RHP Jeff Niemann until he gets a second opinion Monday on his sore right shoulder.

But Niemann appears headed for surgery that likely would end his season before it began.

Niemann will fly with the team to Texas tonight and see Keith Meister, the Rangers' team doctor who operated on him previously, on Monday. Niemann was examined Friday by Rays team doctor Koco Eaton but said there were no conclusions made.

Niemann, 30, said he didn't know what would be decided, but he seemed to have a sense it wasn't good.

"There's a lot of bad-case scenarios out there," Niemann said. "Hopefully there's that light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel kind of thing and just hope for the best. That's all we can do right now."

Niemann's career has been marked by injuries. After missing most of last season with a broken right leg, he returned Sept. 1 but left that game with shoulder issues and didn't pitch again.

He tried rest and rehab over the winter and pitched well in the spring, though with his velocity down a few miles per hour, but he was beaten out by Roberto Hernandez for the last spot in the rotation. He was moved to long relief and said after a few days of throwing to get used to the bullpen routine he had increased discomfort.

"It's never good," Niemann said. "You try not to think about it until you have a full understanding of what it entails."

Price II: LHP David Price is looking forward to the normalcy of today's second start after navigating the hoopla of opening day Tuesday before allowing two first-inning runs in what otherwise was a solid six-inning outing.

"I made sure to get out 7-10 minutes earlier than I normally would because of everything that was going on, and I was in rightfield playing catch when they were bringing the flag out and I've got people yelling at me from a foot away, so it was a little bit different," he said. "I'm not saying it had anything to do with what happened in the first inning … (but) opening day there's a lot of stuff going on. It will be good to get back to a normal opening ceremony."

CRASH COURSE: CF Desmond Jennings said he didn't have any other choice but to crash into Indians C Lou Marson on a third-inning play, and was surprised Marson, who had the plate blocked, held onto the ball. "I looked if I could go either way and I couldn't,'' Jennings said. "It was a good play on his part. I hit him pretty good.''

Marson left later with a cervical/neck strain and said he was sore, but didn't have a concussion.

With Marson out, Carlos Santana went from DH to catcher and RHP Trevor Bauer became the first starting pitcher to bat in an AL game since the Rays' Andy Sonnantine in May 2009 after Maddon messed up the lineup.

FIRST TIME: The Rays have gone errorless through their first five games for the first time in franchise history. ... Saturday was the first time in 2,431 games their first four hitters drew walks.

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GREAT SCOTT: DH Luke Scott said his strained right calf feels good enough that he could play today, then he acknowledged he hasn't tried running at all and will need some at-bats in the minors. Scott also said he would accompany the team on the upcoming road trip; Maddon said that wasn't set.

MISCELLANY: Kelly Johnson started in left, his fourth position in his four games; also 1B, 2B, DH. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson will be presented his Gold Glove before today's game. … Hellickson and LHP Cesar Ramos will sign autographs from 12:15-45. … With C Stephen Vogt traded, the Rays still have to deal with C Robinson Chirinos, who was also designated for assignment April 1, and may be traded.