04/08/12 6:10 PM ET
Flip-flop sets Shields up to face Verlander
By Bill Chastain and Adam Berry / MLB.com
The Rays' No. 1 starter had been slated to start the third game of the series against the Tigers, which will be played on Thursday afternoon in Detroit. But Shields has now been flip-flopped with No. 5 starter Jeff Niemann, which means Shields will start on Wednesday afternoon, when the Tigers start 2011 American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander.
"Throughout the season, it's cool to get an extra day or so every now and then," Shields said. "But we've been on five days the whole Spring Training, so I'm fine with it."
Because of the change, Shields will be able to start the April 16 Patriots' Day game against the Red Sox in Boston, which will start at 11 a.m. ET because it's the day the Boston Marathon is held.
Had Shields remained on rotation, he would have pitched against the Blue Jays in Toronto on April 17.
"Whether or not I'm facing Boston or Toronto, both of those teams are pretty good," Shields said. "I'm ready to go."
As for Niemann, he's fine with the change. Will he consider running in the Boston Marathon now that he's not starting that day's game? Niemann smiled at the question.
"You never know," he said.
Scott exits Rays' finale with tight hamstring
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays designated hitter Luke Scott exited Sunday's 3-0 win over the Yankees early with a tight left hamstring. The Rays said Scott is day to day.
Manager Joe Maddon said he wouldn't rule out the possibility that Scott could play on Tuesday in Detroit, adding that Scott felt only tightness and no muscle was pulled.
"I don't think it's awful, by any means," Maddon said. "I'll find out more, but I don't think it's really bad, honestly."
Maddon said that Scott sustained the injury while running to first base during his second-inning popout to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Stephen Vogt came to the on-deck circle in Scott's place in the third inning, then officially replaced him to lead off the fourth against Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes.
Acquired during the offseason to help provide more power to the Rays lineup, Scott got off to a good start with a three-hit, three-RBI game on Saturday night. The greater injury concern with Scott has been his right shoulder, which required season-ending surgery last July.
Badenhop, Rodney Rays' one-pitch wonders
ST. PETERSBURG -- Talk about one-pitch wonders -- how about Burke Badenhop and Fernando Rodney?
Badenhop entered Sunday's game -- the third of the season for the Rays -- having already made two appearances, but don't worry about the right-hander being worn out, since he had thrown only two pitches.
Badenhop, who is perceived as a ground-ball specialist, relieved Wade Davis in the seventh inning on Friday, and on his first pitch, he induced a ground ball that third baseman Evan Longoria mishandled for an error. And on Saturday night, Badenhop relieved David Price in the seventh inning and induced a double-play grounder from Derek Jeter on one pitch.
Meanwhile, Rodney closed out Saturday night's 8-6 win by throwing one pitch, inducing Alex Rodriguez to ground out to end the game.
"[Rodriguez] can end the game with one swing," Rodney said. "I threw him a two-seam fastball."
Rodney's two-seam fastball goes down and in to right-handed hitters, and it had the desired effect against Rodriguez.
The one-pitch save Rodney recorded was just the second of his career.
"I'll take it," Rodney said.
Rays fielders in right place at right time
ST. PETERSBURG -- Saturday night's 8-6 win over the Yankees ended with the Rays employing an infield shift to the left when right-handed-hitting veteran Alex Rodriguez stepped to the plate. The Yankees slugger hit the first pitch he saw to second baseman Sean Rodriguez, who was positioned on the shortstop side of the bag.
While the shift was unusual, the Rays have shifted to the left against right-handers in the past.
"It just makes sense," Sean Rodriguez said. "A guy like A-Rod is not normally used to getting shifted against. If you think about it, they're trying to pull wide, because they're trying to drive the ball into the gap or hit a home run.
"So even at best case, if they're swinging the bat well and they're like, 'I want to hit the ball to the four-hole because it's wide open,' well, that's fine, because he's not going to beat us on the basepaths. So we'll take that single over him actually trying to drive that ball, so we've taken him out of his game plan. He's thinking about hitting singles instead of hitting doubles or home runs."
Rodriguez might have been positioned in an odd place, but his mind-set remained the same prior to the ground ball that ended the game.
"The infield was a little choppy yesterday, so that ball came up," the Rays infielder said. "But yeah, I want that ball hit to me in that situation, most definitely. And that's what you're thinking -- 'Hit the ball to me; end this game right now.' You have to feel that way. You have to want the ball hit to you in that situation. That's what you work hard for."