Tampa Bay Rays
Rays notes: Scott's extra work paying dividends
ST. PETERSBURG -
Luke Scott, getting his first start in left field and batting third Saturday, helped lead the Rays past the Royals 5-3 in front of 18,593 fans at Tropicana Field.
Scott continued his recent surge at the plate with a pair of hits, including a two-run homer in the third inning that put the Rays ahead for good.
Manager Joe Maddon moved Scott up in the order and dropped 3B Kelly Johnson, who has been struggling during the past month, to seventh.
“That was part of the reasoning to move them back and forth,” Maddon said. “I thought Luke looked a little bit better. Obviously, Kelly has been struggling a bit. (Scott) gets a chopper (to second for an infield hit) but then hits that ball extremely well to right-center field. That was a big moment in that game.”
Scott was 4-for-37 (.108 average) during the first 10 games of June. He worked with hitting coach Derek Shelton on his swing before Wednesday's game. The following night, Scott entered as a pinch-hitter and had two hits. That started a run where he went 5-for-6.
Scott said he watched video of himself hitting during the 2010 season. Shelton also suggested some drills that Scott has performed the last three days.
“Just made a few adjustments, just kind of brought my setup to the same setup in that year,” Scott said. “Shelty, he grabbed me and had a couple ideas on some drills that we could do. Just every day, we've been doing them, trying to stay on top of the ball and hit the ball up front.”
Maddon said Scott will likely play left field again this afternoon.
As for Johnson, Maddon just wants him to relax while batting at the bottom of the order.
“It's all about people getting on base in the first three spots,” Maddon said. “Luke's been doing a little bit better job more recently, Kelly's struggled a little bit so let's take a little heat off Kelly and put a little bit more heat on Luke and see if he responds.”
The bash brothers RF Matt Joyce and DH Evan Longoria homered Saturday, making it the third time this homestand the two homered in the same game.
They are tied for team lead with 14 homers.
“I told him, you can just let me lead just for a little bit,” Joyce said. “That would be nice. I still remember the last day, game 162 last year, I had like 17 home runs, I'm like yeah I'm finally going to beat Longo in home runs and he hits three in the last game. I'm like, cool. I don't know how that's possible, but he seemed to do it. He's pretty good.”
Wade's turn RHP James Shields beat the Rays in his lone start against his old team. 2B Elliot Johnson has been hitting the lights out of the Rays pitching this season. Finally, RHP Wade Davis, the third member of the trio traded to Kansas City in December for OF Wil Myers and company, gets his chance this afternoon to face the Rays.
Davis, who hasn't won since May 15, is coming off back-to-back quality starts.
“I've been getting better, getting stronger, everything's been starting to come back,” Davis said. “I'm starting to pick everything up and feel confident in what I'm doing.”
After spending last year in the Rays bullpen using basically his fastball and curveball, Davis said it took him a while to regain the command of his other pitches now that he's returned to the rotation.
“It's been a little tougher than I thought,” Davis said. “I was a little arrogant in spring training.”
Noteworthy RHP Brandon Gomes (right lat strain) will throw his first of three bullpen sessions this afternoon since going on the disabled list May 10. He said he is scheduled to begin his minor-league rehab assignment June 24. … The Rays will announce LHP David Price's minor-league rehab assignment today. … Maddon said he expects Longoria to return to third base Tuesday in Boston. … The Rays did not strike out Saturday for the first time since July 15, 2007. … LHP Alex Torres replaced RHP Alex Cobb after Cobb was struck in the head with a line drive, striking out four of the five batters he faced. He has 23 strikeouts in 16 scoreless innings this season.
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