tampabay.com

Catcher arrives to relieve ailing duo

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published September 12, 2007


BOSTON - With both catchers hurting, the Rays selected the contract of Triple-A Durham's Raul Casanova Tuesday as a precaution.

The move shows how uncertain the Rays are with the health of starter Dioner Navarro and veteran reserve Josh Paul.

"It's a combination thing," manager Joe Maddon said. "You can't get short-handed at that position. We laugh about it and joke about who's your emergency catcher, but that's the one spot you don't want to put anybody at with a real lack of experience."

The switch-hitting Navarro, who injured his right wrist fouling off a pitch Sunday, started his second straight game since, even though the injury again forced him to bat right-handed against right-handed Boston starter Tim Wakefield. Navarro had a career-high four hits Tuesday, but said this wrist felt the same as it did Monday.

"Maybe it bothered me less tonight, and maybe there was a little more concentration from the right side," Navarro said.

The status of Paul, who has lower back spasms, is more unclear. He is the primary catcher for Scott Kazmir and Edwin Jackson, but he didn't catch Kazmir Monday, and when asked if he believed Paul would be able to catch Jackson today, Maddon said, "Probably not."

"It was so bad (Monday) that my back was in a knot," Paul said. "I think it will be okay. I just need a couple of days to loosen it up."

But Maddon admitted that Navarro and Paul's condition put emergency catcher Josh Wilson, the team's starting SS, close to being the backup.

Casanova, who hit .291 with five homers and 21 RBIs this season with the Bulls, is the second Durham starter taken after INF Jorge Velandia as the Bulls play in the International League Governor's Cup final. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rays designated Montgomery RHP Tim Corcoran for assignment.

COUNTING PITCHES: After Kazmir threw a season-high 118 pitches in Monday's 1-0 win, Maddon said he won't allow Kazmir to throw as many pitches in his next start Saturday. "I'm going to back him off a bit," said Maddon, who added he allowed Kazmir to finish seven innings to give the left-hander a playoff feel. "You're not going to see that again."

LATE EJECTION: Box scores didn't show it, but Rays RF Delmon Young was ejected from Monday's game in the middle of the ninth for throwing his helmet onto the field after he was doubled off first.

"He's been great," Maddon said. "It was one incident. ... I want our guys to get beyond that. We're going to be playing meaningful games next year at this time, so our composure is going to be a big part of us winning."

MINOR MATTERS: Durham LHP J.P. Howell allowed three runs on 10 hits over 62/3 innings as the Bulls lost the opening game of the IL Governor's Cup final 4-2 to Richmond. ... Class A Columbus took 2-1 lead in the South Atlantic League final with a 5-2 win over West Virginia.

MISCELLANY: Visiting clubhouse attendents removed Rocco Baldelli's clothes from a locker to make room for Casanova, a sign Baldelli might not make the trip to Boston. ... Corcoran told the Montgomery Advertiser he wanted to return to pitch for the Biscuits for their playoff run after clearing waivers.