08/11/12 7:10 PM ET
Rays hope experience pays off down the stretch
By Joe Kieser / Special to MLB.com
Prior to Saturday's game, the Rays were 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East standings and half a game behind Baltimore and Detroit in the Wild Card race.
Being right in the middle of a pennant race is nothing new to Tampa Bay, which has had some playoff success in recent years. That fact could give it an advantage when competing with some less-experienced teams.
"I want to believe it does help. I think once you've been there like we have, you expect to be back there, you expect to figure out a way to make it all happen, make it all work. We really play our best ball this time of year, I really think it can continue," manager Joe Maddon said.
Although the Wild Card race might look more realistic for the Rays right now, starting pitcher James Shields said the top priority is not the Wild Card, but trying to catch the Yankees, who are alone in first place.
"We will look at the Wild Card in September. Right now, our goal is to catch up to the Yankees," Shields said. "They are still well within our grasp. As long as we keep playing good baseball and keep winning series, we are going to creep up on them."
Zobrist looks comfortable in return to shortstop
MINNEAPOLIS -- Prior to Friday's game with the Twins, manager Joe Maddon indicated that newly-inserted shortstop Ben Zobrist was a good fit to play the position when the Rays had fly-ball pitchers on the mound like Matt Moore or Jeremy Hellickson, but Zobrist was slated to start at shortstop again with David Price on the mound Saturday at Target Field.
Zobrist has looked comfortable in his first two starts at shortstop since 2009, which could be why Maddon continues to roll with Zobrist at short.
"It's been a while. I am just trying to make every play that comes near me. You do your best to feel comfortable," Zobrist said.
Zobrist said it has taken some adjusting being back at shortstop, but he is feeling more comfortable with every passing inning and is starting to remember what it used to be like.
"The ball comes off a little different with the angles and things like that. When the ball is hit, you just react. We've all fielded enough ground balls that you just react and make the play, set your feet and make a good throw."
Maddon said that if he is able to put Zobrist at shortstop, it gives the Rays a better chance to score more runs.
"It gives us our best offensive lineup, no question," Maddon said. "If we don't do that, I don't feel good about the offense."
Maddon decided to go with Zobrist at shortstop again Saturday, but he also decided to go with the exact same starting lineup as in Friday's game with the Twins, which saw the Rays score 12 runs on 13 hits.
Weather interfering with Scott's rehab schedule
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Rays have been trying to find game time for designated hitter Luke Scott, who has been on the disabled list since July 21 with an oblique strain, but rain washed away those hopes in the first two attempts at a rehab assignment with Class A Charlotte.
The Stone Crabs' Friday game and Saturday's doubleheader opener were both postponed with the Jupiter Hammerheads due to rain. There was hope that the two teams could get in the final game of the doubleheader Saturday, which would give Scott some much-needed at-bats.
"He'll play tonight, hopefully the second game and see how he feels tomorrow," manager Joe Maddon said.
Maddon said he would like Scott to get a few at-bats and run around before returning to the Rays. "He needs to play and test it out," Maddon said.
The second game of the doubleheader is scheduled for a delayed start, according to the Stone Crabs' website, due to weather.
Joe Kieser is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.