Notes: Zobrist going about his business
Rays manager happy with infielder's progress since callup
BOSTON -- At this point last season, Ben Zobrist was the everyday shortstop for the Rays.
On Wednesday afternoon, Zobrist started at shortstop against the Red Sox, but he found himself in a totally different situation.
The Rays are trying out a three-way experiment that has Zobrist and Josh Wilson getting most of the starts at short, while they take a good look at everyday shortstop -- at least, for most of the season -- Brendan Harris at second base. The rationale for the Rays' approach comes down to them wanting to find out if Zobrist or Wilson can be the starting shortstop in 2008, and whether or not Harris has a long-term future at second.
The experiment is the latest chapter in an up-and-down year for Zobrist, who was the starting shortstop on Opening Day, lost his job to Harris and, subsequently, was sent down to Triple-A Durham.
"I look at it this way," said Zobrist, when he was asked about his plight. "Joe [Maddon] has to make the decision, because he's the manager. The best way for him to do that is to give us ample opportunity, so they can decide what they want to do in the offseason or coming into next season.
"You've got to keep Harris in there somewhere, because he's hitting so well. I'm glad I've got the opportunity to do something. And if it comes out to where I can show that I can play there, then I'll be really happy. And if not, that's the way things go sometimes."
Zobrist is a devout Christian, which has prompted some to question his competitiveness. He smiled when asked if his faith has made him any less of a competitor.
"In my life, I've been the most competitive person to myself -- against myself," Zobrist said. "And that's been my worst enemy at times. So I can't really look around at other people and make my comparison based on what other people are doing. I've got to know inside that I'm giving it everything I can, and that I can be satisfied at the end of the day because of that. People can say what they want, and they can have their opinions and they're certainly entitled to that, but that should not affect what I do."
Zobrist said he's learning that he can't control everything.
"It's a simple truth, but sometimes, it takes us longer to figure out than others," Zobrist said. "But I'm learning that God is a lot more in control than I thought."
Zobrist has had to work on not pressing, and he has been accused of overworking. Maddon said he has observed a difference in Zobrist since he was recalled from Durham on July 29.
"I think at the plate, he looks better," Maddon said. "On the field, he looks more comfortable. You watch him in batting practice, there's more force in his swing. I mean, so far, so good."
Kaz on track: Scott Kazmir did not pick up the decision on Tuesday night even though he left the game with the Rays leading the Red Sox, 1-0. But Kazmir put forth his seventh consecutive quality start, and he has been lights-out since the All-Star break. Since then, the Rays left-hander is 4-1 with a 1.01 ERA, which ties him with Arizona's Brandon Webb for the Major Leagues' best ERA over that period. Currently, Kazmir and Webb are on pace to record the third-best second-half ERA since 1957.
This and that: Maddon said that he will begin discussing September callups with Andrew Friedman, the Rays executive vice president of baseball operations, once Friedman is finished negotiating with David Price, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. ... Delmon Young got a break on Wednesday afternoon, when he was penciled in as the designated hitter. ... Carlos Pena is 3-for-32 on the road trip with 12 strikeouts; he's hitting .170 since July 19 and has not hit a home run in his past 10 games.
Up next: The Rays are off on Thursday before starting a 10-game homestand at Tropicana Field that will feature three games against the Indians, three against the Red Sox and four against the A's. Right-hander Edwin Jackson (3-11, 5.84 ERA) will start on Friday night for the Rays, and he'll be opposed by right-hander Paul Byrd (10-5, 4.53) at 7:10 ET.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.