ST. PETERSBURG — A week after slugging a game-winning pinch-hit homer against the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays utilityman Jerry Sands finds himself on the shelf.
Sands hurt his left wrist in Sunday’s victory against Houston and he was sporting a cast on his left arm Monday, hoping to avoid surgery.
“That’s when I felt it,” Sands said of his final at-bat on Sunday, a sixth-inning strikeout. “I don’t know if it was on an earlier swing or not, but something didn’t feel right. We’ll see what happens in a couple of weeks.”
Rays manager Joe Maddon saw Sands return to the dugout shaking his wrist, so he sent up a pinch-hitter for Sands in the eighth.
“For right now, we’re going to cast it up and see how it plays out,’’ Maddon said.
Sands has played in 12 games and is hitting .190 in 21 at-bats since his June 1 recall from Triple-A Durham.
“I was told the sheath that holds the ligament on that side of my wrist is separated,’’ Sands said. “Sam Fuld had the same thing a couple of years go. The plan is to try and rest it and see if it heals on its own. I’m trying to show them what I’ve got ... and then this happens.’’
In 2012, Fuld injured ligaments in his right wrist during a spring training game with the Rays. He underwent surgery 10 days later and missed the first 96 games of the season before returning July 24.
Eager to please
A successful series against the Astros left Rays LF Brandon Guyer in a confident mood.
Guyer went 5-for-14 over the weekend, scoring four runs as Tampa Bay took three of four against Houston. In his past six starts dating back to May 24 — prior to his three-week stint on the DL with a fractured left thumb — Guyer is 11-for-24, with four multi-hit games.
“It’s just another opportunity to help the team win and show what I can do,’’ said Guyer, who batted fifth in the order Monday night.
With Vanderbilt facing Virginia in the College World Series championship round, Guyer (Virginia) and Rays LHP David Price (Vanderbilt) have a keen interest in the best-of-three finals showdown, which began Monday night.
“We’ve got a good little bet going on,’’ Guyer said. “But I can’t give you all the details. They’re two good teams and it should be a great battle.’’
Pittsburgh CF Andrew McCutchen, 27, is the reigning MVP of the National League and Maddon doesn’t hide his admiration for a three-time All-Star just entering his prime years.
“The Pirates have a pretty good lineup and they’ve got one of the best players in baseball in McCutchen,’’ Maddon said. “I’m a huge fan of his. I think he’s a complete player. His place in my pecking order was galvanized one night in spring training two years ago. It was the last out of the game and he hit a routine ground ball to shortstop and beat it out. Forever, he’s on my Top 5 list ... always. Obviously, he’s a huge part of their transformation.’’
NASCAR driver Aric Almirola, who was raised in Tampa and attended the University of Central Florida, will visit the Rays during today’s BP session and attend the game. ... The Pirates are making their first trip to the Trop since 2003, Lou Piniella’s first year as Tampa Bay’s manager. ... The Rays turned only 38 double plays in their first 77 games, 13 fewer than any other team in the majors. ... Tampa Bay begins a 10-day, 11-game road trip Friday at Baltimore, averaging only 3.0 runs per game away from the Trop. ... Price is saddled with a 5-7 record, despite leading the majors in fewest walks per 9 innings (1.0) and most strikeouts (133).