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03/08/11 7:10 PM ET

Johnson back from sore left quadriceps

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Elliot Johnson returned to the Rays' lineup at shortstop on Tuesday after missing a week due to a sore left quadriceps.

Johnson, who is hoping to earn a spot as a utility player, is familiar with the injury as he has experienced it on two other occasions; one time as the result of a freak injury, which he explained.

"It all originates from a wild bullpen throw," Johnson said. "I got hit by it while standing on deck a couple of years ago. It came all the way down in the dirt and hit me on the left toe. It broke my toenail, so when the new one came out, it was ingrown and was just killing me.

"I changed my running mechanics and then a couple of games later, I ended up pulling my quad from trying to keep off of my toe."

Johnson had the toenail removed at the end of that season, but he experienced a problem last season. It was not caught as early and the injury cost him a month.

So this spring, Johnson wasn't about to fool around with his left quad when he began to feel it tighten.

"You can't really play the tough guy role," Johnson said. "I knew what I had and I knew it would be about a week."

Johnson doesn't believe the time off will hinder him in trying to win a roster spot, since a large portion of Spring Training games remain.

"I don't know how long it takes to evaluate, but I imagine 20 games -- or however many games there are -- would be sufficient," Johnson said. "They've got my numbers from last year. They know what I can and can't do. It's my job to make the most of this opportunity from here on out."

Maddon eager to reunite with Crawford

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- For the first time since signing with Boston, left fielder Carl Crawford will face his former Rays teammates on Thursday when the Red Sox travel to Port Charlotte for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest.

When asked about seeing the longtime Rays left fielder for the first time since his departure, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said, "I'm just eager to see him.

"I have not had the chance to congratulate him in person on his new contract," said Maddon of the seven-year, $142 million contract Crawford signed this offseason. "We did the texting thing a little bit and he responded. [But] I have not had the chance to in person tell him how much I appreciate what he had done for us.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him. I'm sure he's going to be having a lot of things going on. ... But we play each other so many times, let's just get it over with."

Hellickson to throw inning Friday

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays righty Jeremy Hellickson, who has been slowed by a strained right hamstring since the beginning of camp, threw to hitters on Tuesday and, according to manager Joe Maddon, he looked good.

Hellickson is slated to throw an inning against the Pirates in Friday's game at Charlotte Sports Park. That will be his first appearance of the spring.

The only thing that might derail that prospect is if Hellickson feels any soreness after throwing Tuesday.

Raheem gives Shields the hook

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- With one out in the fourth inning of Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays, James Shields surrendered a single to right by Juan Rivera on his 60th pitch of the game. That's when the Rays right-hander got the hook.

Normally a starting pitcher isn't too thrilled to come out, but Shields understood he had reached his limit of pitches and he also got a kick out of who was removing him.

Raheem Morris, the head coach of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had suited up to manage alongside his friend, Rays manager Joe Maddon. So it was Morris who went to the mound and he played the part of Major League manager convincingly.

While strolling to the mound, Morris tapped his left arm to signal for left-hander R.J. Swindle before reaching the bump and asking Shields to hand over the baseball.

"I started smiling out there; I thought it was pretty funny," Shields said.

The Rays enjoyed having Morris, as well as some of his coaching staff, in camp on Tuesday.

"Those guys are a blast," Shields said. "They're a class act. That whole coaching staff is a class act. They greatly appreciated us letting them be in the dugout. They're great guys. They look like they have a lot of fun, and that's what we do over here."

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