07/17/12 6:55 PM ET
Rays activate Joyce from 15-day disabled list
By Greg Zeck / MLB.com
Tampa Bay activated Matt Joyce, who had been on the disabled list since mid-June due to an external oblique strain. The Rays, who still have five players on the disabled list, were 8-15 in his absence.
Joyce is batting .279 on the year with 11 homers and 34 RBIs. He hit cleanup in Tuesday's lineup, playing right field.
"You can see the significance of one other name in the lineup and how it impacts the lineup and what it looks like because of that one person," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Just think about when you get two or three."
Joyce began a rehab assignment Sunday with Class A Charlotte and went 1-for-3 with an RBI double. Joyce played again on Monday, going 1-for-5 with an RBI single. He said that hitting was the hardest part during the stint, but got better quickly.
"Everything felt great," Joyce said. "I feel like my timing really wasn't that far off. I was seeing the ball pretty well, hit a couple balls hard. I felt like I was ready, and I told them."
Maddon said he isn't sure whether Joyce will be able to play every day, but would be in close contact with him.
To make room on the active roster, Tampa Bay optioned infielder Will Rhymes to Triple-A Durham. The move would seem to allow Ben Zobrist to move back to second base while Joyce plays in right field.
"He plays our kind of game, he plays hard," Maddon said about Rhymes. "It's just one of those baseball moments. Close to 100 percent of his playing time was gonna be gone by having Matt back against a right-handed pitcher."
Fellow outfielder Sam Fuld continued his rehab assignment, playing his first game with Triple-A Durham after playing five previously with Charlotte. He went 1-for-3 with a walk, playing seven innings in center field on Monday. In his five games with Charlotte, he went 2-for-13.
"He's reporting like he feels really good," Maddon said. "The body feels good, the wrist feels good. The timing is still off a little bit, but as a baseball player, he's feeling pretty good."
Maddon added that he isn't sure when Fuld will be ready to rejoin the club.
Maddon still confident in Molina behind the plate
ST. PETERSBURG -- A passed ball that resulted in a run proved to be costly for the Rays in a 3-2 loss to the Indians on Monday.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he still has confidence in catcher Jose Molina's defensive abilities, despite five passed balls this season.
"He gets the tweezers on it, almost when he catches it, tweezers it from the side," Maddon said. "Just trying to really make sure that ball is a strike, so I think some of the misses are from the tweezer effect. He just wants to try to hold it for a strike."
Maddon acknowledged that Molina should have caught the passed ball on Monday.
Baserunners have attempted to steal on Molina 32 times on the season, succeeding 21 times. Maddon said he believes Molina's arm strength has also improved throughout the season.
Molina has started 45 games behind the dish this season, already surpassing his total with Toronto last year, when he started 44.
Molina was 0-for-3 in Mondays' game and is hitting .165 on the season with two homers and seven RBIs.
"When a guy's not hitting .250 or better and makes a mistake, it tends to become magnified a little more, and I understand that," Maddon said about the passed ball. "But there's a lot of things he's done well that he's not gonna get credit for."
Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.