07/05/12 7:42 PM ET
Reunion bittersweet for Damon, Kotchman
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
The sensation is also a little bit different for both players.
"It's strange," Damon said. "But every year it seems like I'm playing against a former team. But it's part of the business."
Both players said they still pay attention to what the Rays are doing.
"When you play with a team, you tend to become a family," Damon said. "And especially everything we went through last year, the ups and downs and the brilliant finish. It's special. Like I've said so many times, that's the team I'm going to be rooting for when I'm done playing, and the ballpark I'm going to go visit a lot when I'm done playing. It's a bunch of great guys over there."
Since the end of the 2011 season, Damon said he's been asked often about Game No. 162.
"You really can't top that game or top that day," Damon said. "It was a very special moment. And we just wish we could have finished it off better."
On the downside for both players, each must now face the Rays' talented group of pitchers, the prospect of which is no fun, according to Kotchman.
"No, no, certainly not," Kotchman said. "They have those shut-down pitchers and any time you go up against them you have your work cut out for you."
Scott searching for answer to struggles at plate
CLEVELAND -- After grounding out in his first at-bat on Thursday against the Indians, Luke Scott's hitless streak reached 37 at-bats dating back to June 1, which tied him with Jose Cruz Jr. for the club record. Cruz went 0-for-37 from April 16-May 1, 2004.
Scott was inserted into Thursday night's lineup at first base, the first time he had played in the field all season, a ploy Rays manager Joe Maddon believed might free up Scott's mind a little bit.
When asked about the assignment, Scott smiled.
"Why not?" he said. "I'm at the point where I'm just saying why not. Hopefully I can do something to help the team. ... We'll see how it goes tonight, give it a whirl."
Scott is frustrated to the point of where he said he's had sleepless nights and even shed a few tears about his plight.
"I've been chasing it, trying to eat soup with a fork type of frustration going on," Scott said. "I have peace knowing that I do everything I can every single day to put myself in a position to where I can grab a hold of it if it presents an opportunity, but it's been elusive."
Scott called this current stretch the toughest he's experienced in his career.
"It's a difficult thing, because I take it personal," Scott said. "It means a lot to me."
Pena in midst of sustained power surge
CLEVELAND -- Entering Thursday, Carlos Pena had hit five home runs in his last 16 games, and four of them were game-tying or go-ahead blasts. Prior to that stretch, Pena had only four long balls in his previous 49 games (April 25-June 17).
"I think it's feel in my opinion," Pena said when asked about the stretch. "It would go against human nature to ignore feel. You may have the most perfect swing, but I'd rather have a not-so-perfect swing and feel good."
Pena noted that when he's going well, the mechanical details of his swing are out of mind.
"Usually, when it's kept simplest, it's the best, even though you do have to pay attention to some issues that may be hindering your swing," Pena said. "... There are times when you have to pay attention to mechanics, but ideally you want to be as clear as you can."
David Price will be one of several American League All-Stars each reading an item from the Top Ten List on the Late Show with David Letterman on Monday on CBS.
The Top Ten List will be presented via satellite from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, where the 2012 All-Star Game will be played the following evening (Tuesday, July 10), airing on FOX.
Matt Joyce (left external oblique strain) had to be removed from Wednesday's game while playing in a rehab game for Triple-A Durham. Joyce felt some back stiffness after sliding. Rays manager Joe Maddon does not believe it to be a major setback and he expects Joyce to soon be back with the team, perhaps at the start of the second half.
Jeff Keppinger (bruised left triceps) and Hideki Matsui (left hamstring tightness) were both available to play Thursday night against the Indians.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.