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Friday, May 25, 2018
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Rays notes: Balfour won't rush back

ST. PETERSBURG - RHP Grant Balfour (intercostal strain) is coming back, but maybe not by Wednesday, as everyone anticipated. Balfour allowed two runs on two hits and three walks in two-thirds of an inning Saturday during a rehab start for Single-A Charlotte. He did strike out two. Balfour said his problems weren't physical. He was just rusty from having not pitched since July 27. "Nothing hurt," Balfour said. "Everything was fine. Felt like I haven't pitched in a month and that's how it's been. You lose it. Can't flick the switch and be right back where you were."
Balfour will pitch tonight in Bradenton for the Stone Crabs and could rejoin the team Wednesday when the rosters expand to 40. Or, he might make another rehab start or pitch a simulated game at Tropicana Field. "If I feel I need another game they'll give me another game," Balfour said. Manager Joe Maddon said he doesn't want Balfour to rush back. "You just think about the level he had been pitching at. That's what you're looking for, to get him back at that level, too," Maddon said. "There are many times I did afford myself that moment to think him in the seventh, (Joaquin) Benoit in the eighth and (Rafael) Soriano in the ninth. So it would be nice to get him back throwing at that consistency. He was solid. He looked like he did (in 2008)." The Rays will begin bringing players up from Triple-A Durham this week, perhaps as early as Tuesday - the deadline to be eligible for the postseason. Expect C Dioner Navarro to be among the first wave of call-ups. "You definitely want another catcher," Maddon said. That will afford Maddon more flexibility to pinch hit for John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach in the late innings. It also will allow Maddon the chance to use Jaso as the DH. Jeremy Hellickson will be back. You also might see Rocco Baldelli, Desmond Jennings, Brian Shouse and Jake McGee. "I believe the guys we're going to call up have a chance to impact us in a positive way," Maddon said. The Rays can still add a player brought up after Tuesday to the postseason if they are replacing an injured player. And moving J.P. Howell to the 60-day disabled list will create an opening on the postseason roster for a pitcher. Newly acquired Brad Hawpe was 0-for-4 Saturday night for the Stone Crabs, but was pleased with the way he swung the bat. Hawpe, a left-handed hitter who can play first base and the outfield, figures to fill Dan Johnson's role, but Maddon said that won't necessarily be the case. "We'll use him primarily as the left-handed DH," Maddon said. "Dan Johnson will also be included in that moment, too. I will try to make my best evaluation on a nightly basis and pick the guy we want to use. As the month gets deeper we'll see how it all works out. Somebody might get hot, I don't know." Clay Buchholz threw only three curveballs Saturday night and only one was a strike - the one B.J. Upton drilled into the left-field seats in the bottom of the eighth for a game-tying home run. ... Johnson's 10th-inning homer Saturday was the Rays' first extra-inning walk-off homer since Evan Longoria beat Boston on Aug. 4, 2009.
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