Rays Roundup: Unlucky Bounce Proves Costly

In this edition of Rays Roundup: Carlos Pena and the Rays literally run into bad luck in Sunday's loss to the Braves, Jeff Keppinger has a right foot injury that has required him to wear a walking boot, Alex Cobb remains calm and confident in his 2012 debut and Matt Joyce his his third career grand slam. All of that plus the latest on all of the injured Rays inside.

INSIDE PITCH

Unlucky bounce proves costly

The Rays have weathered a mind-numbing string of injuries and got past the quarter pole of the season with a winning record, primarily by not bemoaning their losses.

But Sunday they admitted that their luck was just bad.

Trailing 2-0 in the eighth after an exceptional outing from David Price, the Rays mounted their best threat with the bases loaded and two out and thought they had the game tied when Luke Scott laced a ground ball that appeared headed to right field.

But that was when their latest misfortune intervened as the ball instead struck Carlos Pena on the right ankle as he broke for second.

"It's just a helpless feeling because I couldn't go anywhere, I was in the air when the ball hit me," Pena said. "It was a rocket. It's just bad luck."

The Braves knew it too, 2B Dan Uggla admitting he didn't know if he could have gotten to the ball.

"I got lucky," Braves LH reliever Jonny Venters said.


NOTES, QUOTES

Keppinger injured while watching game

--INF Jeff Keppinger is the latest Ray to be the victim of a freak injury, though the extent is unclear. Keppinger was hit on the right foot by a foul ball while watching Saturday's game, and what seemed like a minor issue at the time became more serious as Keppinger was seen in a walking boot on Sunday. He was unavailable to play, and the team said he would undergo testing with an update expected Monday. "We have to make sure exactly what it is," manager Joe Maddon said. With 3B Evan Longoria on the DL, Ben Zobrist playing primarily right field due to LF Desmond Jennings being on the DL, and prospect SS Tim Beckham suspended, the Rays could be scrambling for infield help if Keppinger misses extended time.

--C Jose Molina was removed from Sunday's game for precautionary reasons after being hit in the mask by a foul tip, though Maddon said after the game he was fine. "He did get dinged a little bit there," Maddon said. "He came out and he was just not 100 percent right. I wasn't comfortable sending him back out there."

--RHP Alex Cobb was calm and confident in his season debut on Saturday, and successful, working seven strong innings to lead the Rays to a win in his first start in place of injured RHP Jeff Niemann. "I think knowing what I did last year was helping me a lot to calm down," Cobb said, "and knowing that if I throw the way I'm capable of that I'd be fine."

--RHP Jeremy Hellickson faces the Blue Jays on Monday with a perfect record thus far against Toronto: 2-0, 3.93 ERA in his first three starts, with 16 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings.

--LF Desmond Jennings is progressing well in his recovery from a left knee sprain, bouncing around the field this weekend after workouts. Jennings is eligible to come off the DL on May 27 and should be ready then, or very shortly after, Maddon said. He may need a short minor-league rehab first.

--OF Matt Joyce acknowledged his third career grand slam wasn't as dramatic as his first two -- one a pinch-hit blast that capped a comeback, the other vs. his former Tigers teammates -- but Saturday's was enjoyable too, as he took over the team lead with eight homers by crushing a 2-0 fastball over the centerfield wall, where few balls have gone out this season at the Trop. Said Joyce: "That's all I've got."

BY THE NUMBERS: 127 -- Players in major-league history with 100 career saves. RH closer Fernando Rodney joined the group Saturday.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Let's find the witch doctor, and behead him, and throw his body into the bay." -- DH Luke Scott, on the Rays' extended run of bad luck.


MEDICAL WATCH:

--INF Will Rhymes (bruised right forearm) was hurt May 16 and left the game after fainting. He returned to the lineup May 19.

--OF Brandon Guyer (left shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 13. He didn't believe the ailment was serious.

--RHP Jeff Niemann (fractured right fibula) went on the 15-day disabled list May 15. He is likely to be sidelined until late June.

--LF Desmond Jennings (sprained left knee) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 12. It's uncertain if he'll be able to return as soon as he is eligible.

--INF/OF Brandon Allen (strained right quadriceps) went on the 15-day disabled list May 10. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Charlotte on May 17.

--3B Evan Longoria (partial tear of left hamstring) went on the 15-day disabled list May 1. He will be out until mid-to-late June.

--C Jose Lobaton (right shoulder soreness) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 13. He began a rehab assignment May 12 with Class A Charlotte.

--RHP Kyle Farnsworth (right elbow strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 1, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 1. He began throwing a ball in a sock May 1.

--C Robinson Chirinos (concussion) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 19.

--OF Sam Fuld (right wrist surgery in April 2012) went on the 15-day disabled list April 4, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 15. He is expected to be out until August or September.


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