CHICAGO -- Kelly Shoppach had to leave Friday night's contest with right knee soreness, but the Rays catcher appears to be fine.
He left the game after getting injured in the bottom of the seventh. Rays reliever Joel Peralta had thrown wildly to home with one out, prompting Brent Morel to try to score from third. Shoppach chased the ball and quickly turned to make a snap throw to Peralta, who covered the plate to get the sliding runner for the second out of the inning.
Shoppach came up limping and John Jaso took over at catcher. He injured his right knee early in the 2010 season when he blocked home plate while tagging out the Yankees' Curtis Granderson, who collided with him. That led to arthroscopic meniscus surgery to his right knee and, basically, put him on a bad road for the season. He missed 49 games before getting reinstated from the disabled list on June 4.
Shoppach said he has not seen the play that caused him the pain Friday night, but he had a familiar feeling afterward.
"You know, same feeling I've felt in the past, so immediately I was panicked, frustrated right out of the chute," Shoppach said. "I needed to walk. I needed to virtually walk it off. But we didn't have time for that, right in the middle of an at-bat in the middle of a game. If it had been between innings, I'm not sure I would have even come out of the game. I needed some time because it didn't feel good at all."
Last year, Shoppach called Ron Porterfield the morning after his knee got injured and told the team's head athletic trainer "something is wrong." Then they had an MRI done, which revealed the damage. So the plan for Shoppach's knee was the same after Friday night's game. If he woke up Saturday morning with swelling, they would have headed off to have an MRI done.
"I woke up about every hour last night to check and see if there was any swelling," Shoppach said. "I just didn't know, because that feeling there was the same feeling I had in the past. I knew immediately I needed to have a break. That's not a very comfortable feeling."
Shoppach went through some on-the-field catching tests prior to Saturday's game and everything turned out fine.
"No ligament damage in the major ligaments," Shoppach said. "My leg's intact. It's strong. ... That's the most trauma I've put on my knee since the last surgery, so that feeling coming back was a scary feeling."
A potential emergency behind the plate
CHICAGO -- The Rays got a little bit thin at the catching position Friday night after Kelly Shoppach left the game and John Jaso took over.
Normally Sean Rodriguez would have been the emergency catcher. However, after manager Joe Maddon pinch-hit for Rodriguez, who started at third base Friday night, infielder Elliot Johnson was next in line if something happened to Jaso.
"I walked up to [bench coach Dave Martinez] after Shop had come out and said, 'Am I second in line now to catch if something happens to Jaso?'" Johnson said. "And he said no at first, then he stopped me and said, 'Yeah, probably that's you.'"
When asked who would come to mind by watching him catch, Johnson quipped: "I would say Benito Santiago is more my style, with the flexibility he possessed going to one leg and one leg straight out. Some people have tried to duplicate that, but they cannot. They lack the physical specimen he was and the flexibility. Obviously, he spent a lot of time doing yoga."
Bullpen/catching coach Bobby Ramos laughed when asked what would have happened had Johnson been called into duty Friday night. He then said he would have called 911.
Johnson did not take exception to Ramos' remark.
"Because in '08, when [Dioner Navarro] sliced his fingers open at Yankee Stadium, they sent me out to the bullpen to go catch [Jason] Hammel and J.P. [Howell], it did not go very well. Catching, obviously, is the hardest position. I've done it a little bit, but to be able to block and throw the way they do, I can't imagine that as something that comes easily.
"If it came to it, I would certainly do the best I could. But I'm not a Major League catcher by any stretch of the imagination."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.