ST. LOUIS — RHP Jeremy Hellickson will return to the rotation Saturday night and face the Red Sox in the middle game of the three-game series at Tropicana Field.
With the four-day All-Star break last week, followed by two off days this week, the Rays did not have a need for a fifth starter, so Hellickson was optioned to Double-A Montgomery on July 13 and then moved to Single-A Charlotte so he could continue pitching.
The Rays could actually go until Tuesday before they needed a fifth starter, but manager Joe Maddon said it was time to bring back Hellickson.
“Everything seemed to be good,” Maddon said. “He already pitched for us. We wanted to keep him rolling.”
LHP David Price will pitch Friday, and RHP Chris Archer will face the Red Sox on Sunday.
The Rays will make a move before Saturday to clear a roster spot for Hellickson. LHP Erik Bedard, who lost his spot in the rotation when Hellickson returned to the team July 7 and has been used once in relief since moving to the bullpen, is expected to be the odd man out.
Price will pitch on five days of rest because of the off days. Archer, RHP Jake Odorizzi and RHP Alex Cobb will each be pushed back a day.
Maddon compared this to 2011, when the Rays called up Cobb to create a six-man rotation so the pitchers would benefit from an extra day of rest between starts.
“They're going to go through that moment when they don't get any break, so you take advantage of it,” Maddon said. “It's almost like the schedule and the game itself tells you what to do if you just listen, so let's just listen to what's going on right now. Permit guys rest if they need it. You want to be playing your best ball in September. That's something we always strive to do, and we've done it. All this stuff has kind of worked into a nice way right now.”
Speaking of off days
Having two days off during the first seven days after the All-Star break is a bit odd, and Maddon said he was concerned too much rest could have a negative impact on his team.
But the Rays responded well on this road trip, so Maddon said it has worked for the best.
“We should be getting our second wind somewhat going into August,” Maddon said. “We have to play well the last two months, we always do, and I've always been mindful not beating (up) guys before we get to that point. In a weird way, a perverse way, it might work out for us.”
Maddon also pointed out the Rays had four three-city road trips before the All-Star break.
“At the beginning, it was an awkward schedule that way,” Maddon said. “Now it's still awkward, but it might benefit us.”
3B Evan Longoria took over the franchise lead for career RBIs on Tuesday with his ninth-inning homer. He had been tied with Carl Crawford, who had 592 RBIs as a Ray.
“That's my job,” Longoria said. “That's the gist of what I need to do for this team. I knew I was close. It was special. I'm kind of happy it's happened around this time, because it makes it more special the way we're playing and kind of for it to happen in a moment where we need some moments like this to bring us together. Not that it needs to be me.”
You talking to me?
Maddon was ejected in the third inning Tuesday after first arguing a called third strike on 2B Ben Zobrist and then getting into a shouting match with Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright.
Maddon said home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger mistook Maddon yelling at Wainwright for Maddon yelling at him.
Wainwright said after the game he told Maddon to stop yelling at Ripperger because he was holding up the game. Maddon said being yelled at by the opposing pitcher was “entertaining.”
“That's just one of those moments. That's a competitive moment,” Maddon said. “I always try to do what I perceive to be the best thing for the Rays only. I'm not worried about the other team, ever. I'm not worried about hurting anybody else's feelings or whatever, that's their responsibility. When it comes down to what I got to do, it's about us. I hope it does sound selfish, because that's the way it is.”
Lightning G Ben Bishop, who grew up in St. Louis and was drafted by the Blues in 2005, was an on-field guest of the Rays during batting practice. … The Rays were shut out in both rounds during Wednesday's Competitive Balance Lottery for the 2015 draft, so they won't have extra picks next June. ... On Tuesday, Odorizzi became the first Rays pitcher to drive in a run with a sacrifice bunt since LHP Matt Moore did it June 9, 2012 at Miami. … Cobbbatted eighth Wednesday. He's the fourth Rays pitcher to bat that high since August, joining Hellickson (Aug. 11, 2013 at Dodgers), LHP Cesar Ramos (April 13 at Reds) and Odorizzi on Tuesday.