tampabay.com

Minors to supply Crawford fill-in

The Rays are expected to promote an outfielder as Carl Crawford's groin strain continues to sideline him.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published September 19, 2007


ANAHEIM, Calif. - Officially, the Devil Rays say they won't know until this weekend if All-Star LF Carl Crawford will return from a strained groin to play again this season. But the longer it goes the less likely it appears, and it will look even less so today when the Rays are expected to add an outfielder.

Jason Pridie and Justin Ruggiano, prospects who both excelled at Triple-A Durham, appear the most likely candidates, though nothing will be official until today because the Rays also have to clear a spot in the 40-man roster.

"We're trying to get somebody in here," manager Joe Maddon said.

With Crawford out, the Rays have been using Jonny Gomes in leftfield and have only Greg Norton as an experienced reserve. "I don't want us to get caught short in these games," Maddon said. "We're down to the nubs in the outfield."

Crawford, out since being hurt in the ninth inning Sunday, said Tuesday he didn't really feel any better and remained limited in all activities. Maddon conceded Crawford won't be ready by Friday - when he was to be reevaluated - and said that a decision on the rest of the season will be made soon.

"By this weekend we should pretty much know if that's going to be in the can or not," he said.

ANOTHER INJURY: 2B Brendan Harris was scratched Tuesday after straining his left lat, a muscle on the side under the arm pit, during batting practice. Jorge Velandia took his place at second and Josh Wilson started at shortstop. Maddon said Harris might be able to play today.

UNIFORM REPORT:Paul Lukas, whose uniwatchblog.com is the leading (and only?) source of news on sports uniform issues, wrote Tuesday he has seen the Rays' new threads and "can confirm what's been reported (the team is now just the Rays) and what's been rumored (the new colors are navy, yellow, and light blue)."

Lukas also wrote: "As for the design, it's a total snooze - not wonderful, not awful, just booooooring. I already miss the current design, which I think has been badly underrated (esp. the home set)."

MAD DASH: CF B.J. Upton gave the Rays about three seconds of excitement in an otherwise depressing 10-7 loss on Monday, when he successfully - and relatively easily - stole home off slow-delivering Angels starter Kelvim Escobar.

"I told (third-base coach Tom) Foley on the first pitch I thought I could get him," Upton said. "I waited two more pitches and as soon as he checked me I took off. ... I got a good enough jump to where I knew I had a good shot."

Upton was the sixth Ray to steal home, the third on a straight steal (as opposed to part of a double steal), joining speedy Crawford and anything-but-speedy Aubrey Huff.

"The C.C. part's cool," Upton said, "but the fact that Huffy stole home - how does that happen?"

MISCELLANY: The Red Sox will start Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield this weekend at the Trop. ... 1B Carlos Pena's 18 homers since Aug.18 are the most in the majors. ... Triple-A pitching coach Xavier Hernandez joined the team Tuesday.



Bottom's up

How the Rays stand in avoiding the worst record in the majors:

Team W-L GA

Rays 63-89 -

Orioles 64-86 +2

White Sox 65-86 +2.5

Astros 65-86 +2.5

Marlins 65-86 +2.5

Royals 65-85 +3

Pirates 66-85 +3.5

Giants 67-84 +4.5

Nationals 68-83 +5.5