ARLINGTON, Texas — Manager Joe Maddon's disappointment in INF Sean Rodriguez breaking his right hand by punching a locker was not softened by news Tuesday that the fracture won't require surgery and Rodriguez may be able to return by late September.
"It's possible, but it's still unfortunate because we needed him earlier than that," Maddon said. "So there's no real great solace in the fact that he's going to be available at some point. He should be available as of Sept. 1. That's what we were looking for."
Rodriguez was sent temporarily to Triple-A Durham with plans to be recalled Saturday when rosters expand and return to the lineup this weekend.
Maddon said he texted with Rodriguez, who was contrite in explaining why he acted out of frustration.
"He obviously was upset about his actions and how inappropriate they were. He's always been an accountable fellow," Maddon said. "But you just can't do things like that. It upsets the rhythm of what we're doing and what he's doing. Of course, a regular injury is a different story. A self-inflicted wound is something different."
Plus, Maddon said dealing with a broken bone always brings some uncertainty.
JOYCE DAY TO DAY, FOR NOW: OF Matt Joyce said he felt a grabbing pain in a muscle in his left forearm during a check swing in his first at-bat, and came out of the game because he didn't want to risk it getting worse. Still, he didn't sound sure exactly what was wrong or how long he would be limited. "Right now I'm day to day, hopefully it stays that way,'' Joyce said. "It's frustrating.'' NIEMANN ON SATURDAY: RHP Jeff Niemann had no issues in his Tuesday bullpen session and was cleared to make his return to active duty, starting Saturday at Toronto, where he broke his leg May 14 when hit by a line drive. In his final rehab start on Saturday, Niemann was hit on the right hand by another liner.
"I'm ready to go," he said. "I felt great today, my hand feels good, my leg feels good."
Niemann won't go back into the rotation on a regular basis but will make spot starts designed to provide additional rest for the three junior members of the rotation — RHP Jeremy Hellickson, LHP Matt Moore and RHP Alex Cobb, who took Niemann's place.
"They've been doing great things without me; I want to come in and just continue the trend," Niemann said.
TOP PICK SALE SUSPENDED: Class A OF Josh Sale, the Rays' top 2010 draft pick, was suspended 50 games after testing positive for methamphetamine and an amphetamine, the fourth Bowling Green player in the last week to do so.
Sale issued a statement through his agent claiming he did nothing wrong: "I believe my suspension is unwarranted and that I did not take any banned substance." He also said he planned to appeal but "was unable to uncover enough evidence of my innocence to proceed in good faith" and dropped it "out of respect for the game."
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Testing positive for methamphetamine is not necessarily the same as using recreational meth; methamphetamine can show up on some drug tests from using the prescription stimulant Adderall. Ryan Brett, one of the players suspended last week, said that was why he tested positive. Some players can get a medical exemption from MLB to use Adderall.
NOT-SO-MINOR MATTERS: INFs Tim Beckham and Hak-Ju Lee and top 2012 draft pick Richie Shaffer head the list of Rays prospects headed to the Phoenix team in the Arizona Fall League. Also going are Ps Lenny Linsky, Chris Rearick, C.J. Riefenhauser and Kirby Yates, plus hitting coach Steve Livesey and trainer Chris Tomashoff. … Durham 1B/OF Leslie Anderson was named a Triple-A International League postseason All-Star, hitting .313 with 14 homers, 55 RBIs. … The Rays extended their deal with Class A Charlotte through 2014.
MISCELLANY: The Rays are looking at about a half-dozen callups total, including a third catcher (Chris Gimenez or Stephen Vogt), relievers (possibly Brandon Gomes and Cesar Ramos) and a pinch-runner (Rich Thompson); some Saturday, the others after Durham's season ends Monday. …
OF Sam Fuld became the first AL player to enter a game as a reserve and get three hits since Jorge Posada for the Yankees in June 2011. ... Tonight's start time was moved up an hour because the Cowboys are playing the Dolphins across the street.