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07/17/07 7:45 PM ET

Notes: Reyes to come off DL

Rays closer to return to bullpen on Wednesday

ST. PETERSBURG -- Al Reyes, who has been sidelined since July 3 with a mild rotator cuff strain, pitched an inning for Class A Vero Beach on Monday night.

The veteran right-hander allowed one run on two hits -- including a home run.

"I threw an inning over there and everything feels good," said Reyes, who drove home from Vero Beach after his stint. "I'm ready to come back."

Reyes threw all of his pitches during the 22-pitch outing and enjoyed a chuckle about the homer he surrendered.

"I gave up a homer on a hanging changeup, the wind was blowing like a tornado to center field," Reyes said.

Reyes has appeared in 34 games for the Rays this season and has a team-leading 17 saves in 18 save opportunities.

"I saw the report from last night, he did well," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "[He was throwing] 87 mph pretty consistently. He threw his changeup and his slider; gave up a home run on a changeup. But pitched well, felt well."

Reyes is eligible to come off the disabled list on Wednesday. Maddon said if Reyes feels good, there's no reason why he can't pitch in back-to-back outings. But he cautioned it probably would not happen on Wednesday and Thursday against the Angels since the Thursday game is a day game.

"I feel ready to go and feel like I can go 100 percent here," Reyes said.

Upton at No. 3: B.J. Upton returned from the disabled list on Friday night against the Yankees and Maddon had him hitting in the bottom half of the order. On Tuesday night against the Angels, Upton was hitting third.

Upton entered Tuesday night's action hitting .329 with nine home runs and 33 RBIs. Maddon said he hit Upton lower in the order initially because he wanted to see how he was health-wise coming back from a strained quadriceps. Now that Maddon is convinced Upton is healthy, the Rays skipper liked the idea of having Upton hit third.

"He's the highest on-base percentage guy we have," Maddon said. "I think he's at .409 right now. He's got this ability to get on base and drive in runs. I feel very comfortable about it. Over the course of the season, he's shown me he can handle this."

Tuesday night's lineup had Akinori Iwamura leading off followed by Carl Crawford hitting second, Upton at No. 3, Carlos Pena at cleanup, Delmon Young at fifth and Brendan Harris at sixth.

"So the way this lineup is set up, Aki is a high on-base percentage guy, Carl presents on-base plus RBIs," Maddon said. "B.J. on-base plus RBIs, Carlos, on-base plus RBIs, etc., and then Harry is hitting in the six hole. So I like the on-base percentage of the guys setting up Carlos, that grouping in regard to hitting with runners in scoring position, check that out, two through six. Very good with runners in scoring position, so they're all clumped together, which I think gives us our best chance of scoring runs."

More maple: After Sunday's game, Maddon raised questions about the safety of players using maple bats, citing the fact the maple models seem to explode and splinter on more of a regular basis than their ash counterparts.

Maddon said he has not done anything official, yet, but...

"I wanted to put it out there, because I really believe someone is going to get hurt at some point if nothing is done about it," he said. "Yes, it's not the time to do it right now -- we've got to take care of this stuff. But I do believe it has to be addressed."

Old home week: After spending 31 years in Anaheim, Maddon accepted the Rays managerial post prior to the 2006 season. He remains close with many of the Angels, including manager Mike Scioscia, for whom Maddon served as bench coach.

"I probably call him once every three of four weeks just to check in, see what's going on," Scioscia told MLB.com, adding Maddon did not need words of encouragement despite the Rays' standing.

"Joe doesn't need any words of encouragement," Scioscia said. "I've never seen Joe discouraged in anything he does. He has a handle on whatever he's done in this game. He knows that organization. They've had some ups and downs, but as a whole, they've definitely taken strides forward. That's what he's doing. He's building an organization, and I think you'll see his philosophy will permeate all the way through. You'll start to see the benefits of what he'll bring as time goes on."

Maddon is 2-9 against his former team since taking over the Rays and said the thrill of seeing his former mates has "worn off."

"I mean, I love seeing them, because they're a lot of fun and they're friends," Maddon said. "Other than that ...

"They have worn us out. They're good. They have a good thing going on."

Up next: The Rays will play the second game of their three-game series against the Angels on Wednesday night in a 7:10 ET contest at Tropicana Field. Left-hander Scott Kazmir will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Bartolo Colon.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.