05/09/12 11:20 PM ET
Rays plan tribute to battle breast cancer
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced the 30 winners of the 2012 Honorary Bat Girl program, which recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrate a commitment of "Going to Bat" in the fight against the disease.
The 30 winners, one per MLB club, will be recognized on-field at Major League ballparks on Mother's Day, or an alternative date for away clubs. Each winner was selected by a guest-judging panel that includes MLB players and celebrities, in addition to fan votes cast on HonoraryBatGirl.com.
During MLB's annual day of recognition for mothers worldwide, Honorary Bat Girls will take part in pregame activities and receive pink MLB merchandise, as well as two tickets to the game. For clubs that are away on Mother's Day, another home game in May will be selected to recognize their Honorary Bat Girl.
Nine-time Grammy Award winner Bonnie Raitt, who has lost her brother and close friends to cancer, recorded a special video at the MLB Fan Cave to lend her support to the Honorary Bat Girl initiative and the ongoing fight to eradicate the disease. The video will run online and at big league ballparks.
Also on Mother's Day, hundreds of MLB players are expected to use pink bats by Louisville Slugger, the official bat of Major League Baseball, stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo. To further demonstrate their support for the breast cancer cause, players and on-field personnel will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms, along with pink wrist bands. Commemorative dugout lineup cards will also be pink.
Resilient Guyer grateful for chance with Rays
NEW YORK -- Brandon Guyer joined the Rays for Wednesday's game against the Yankees after Jeff Keppinger was placed on the restricted list due to a personal matter.
"We just put Kep on restricted list for right now," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He had to take care of some personal situations back home, and we brought Guyer up for the day, or more."
Keppinger is not expected to be away from the team for long. Maddon said on Wednesday that he should know more "later tonight or tomorrow morning" regarding when Keppinger will return.
"I've already talked to Guyer about it," Maddon said. "It's an uncomfortable situation in some ways. We've done this kind of thing with him in the past, so he knows how to work with it. He's fine."
Guyer will likely be the player headed back to Triple-A Durham when Keppinger returns, but Guyer seemed fine with just having time in the Major Leagues.
Guyer has had a rough stretch, dating back to Spring Training, when Matt Bush was charged in Charlotte County with driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a March 22 accident while driving Guyer's vehicle. Bush allegedly caused serious bodily injury after he reportedly struck a 72-year-old motorcyclist, Anthony Tufano, who was driving home after babysitting his granddaughter.
Guyer noted that he cannot discuss anything dealing with that situation, but he did speak about having to overcome a lot mentally while dealing with the subsequent stress and legal problems created by that situation.
"Some off-the-field stuff," Guyer said. "I just let it get to me, and it was beating me for a while. But once I overcame that, I just mentally got stronger. I think in the long run, it will make me a better player and person. It just took a little bit to get over it and getting back to who I am -- and play like I can.
"It's a challenge. But I've had peaks and valleys in my career. But like I said, I think in the long run, it will help me. Only the strong survive, man. You just have to keep grinding, and that's what it's all about."
Keppinger, who signed with the Rays as a free agent on Jan. 26, started at third base in Tuesday night's 5-3 loss to New York and went 1-for-3 to raise his average to .313 for the season.
Guyer was hitting .294 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 22 games for Durham.
Jennings strong enough to pinch-hit
NEW YORK -- Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings entered Wednesday's 4-1 win over the Yankees as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, returning to action after a left knee sprain had sidelined him since he exited Sunday's game after the second inning.
Batting for Elliot Johnson with runners on the corners and Tampa Bay trailing, 1-0, Jennings flied out to left field to end the inning.
Before the game, neither Jennings nor Rays manager Joe Maddon could be sure when the outfielder would make his way back to the field.
"I feel like very soon," Jennings said. "I can't point out the day. It feels all right. ... I feel like I'm very close to playing."
Jennings has been fitted for a brace, which will take some getting used to for the speedster.
"Yeah, it's different," Jennings said. "I'm not used to wearing a brace, but if it's going to help me go out there and play, it's something I'll have to do."
Prior to his club's series opener in New York on Tuesday, Maddon said that Jennings might be used as a pinch-hitter during the three-game set and that if Jennings reached base, Maddon would likely pinch-run for him. Jennings did not remember being lifted for a pinch-runner at any stage during his career. When that possibility was mentioned, Jennings smiled.
"I probably would have tried to stay out there," Jennings said. "I don't think I could come out for a pitcher. I'd rather Joe come out there and run for me than a pitcher."
Hideki Matsui went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a walk on Wednesday in his extended spring debut.
"For the first game, I don't think it was too bad," Matsui said through an interpreter. "Hopefully, it will just get better as I progress."
David Price, James Shields and Sean Rodriguez visited the MLB Fan Cave on Wednesday morning. The trio managed to have fun during the visit and raised $1,200 for Boys and Girls Clubs in the process.
Luke Scott has been throwing, testing his surgically repaired right shoulder, and he said that he would be ready and able to play some first base if needed. When asked about Scott's ability to play first, Maddon said that the veteran has not yet been cleared to do so by the team's head athletic trainer, Ron Porterfield.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.