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Tuesday, Aug 21, 2018
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Rays journal: Whoever you are, please put down the Matt Duffy voodoo doll

Third baseman Matt Duffy returned to the lineup Sunday after sitting out Friday and Saturday because of back spasms. He went 0-for-3.

The cause of those spasms? His drive to the ballpark.

"Just shifting my weight and turning the steering wheel," he said. "I've never really injured (my back) doing something like taking a swing in a game, an aggressive swing, or throwing the ball. It's always doing something like jogging in after an inning, something that seems very easy."

Taking 58 for the team

Someone must have a voodoo doll of Duffy. In the third inning, Marlins right-hander Trevor Richards' inside changeup hit Duffy. It was the 58th time this season that a Rays player has been hit by a pitch, the most in baseball. (Duffy was fine, by the way.)

Duffy has been hit only five times this season, though oddly enough twice by Richards. (Richards hit him July 3, too) C.J. Cron and Carlos Gomez share the team lead, with 14 apiece. Being hit by a pitch is nothing new to Gomez — he led the American League with 19 last season. As for Cron, he hadn't been hit more than seven times before this season.

"I do get pitched inside quite a bit, probably more than a lot of players," Cron said. "I wouldn't say it's a coincidence — none of them are on purpose obviously or anything like that. I think it's just the way pitchers want to attack me. Sometimes, it gets away, and I have a nice little elbow guard there so I try to get as many off that without it getting my wrist or forearm or anything like that."

The Marlins' Derek Dietrich is the major-league leader with 15 hit by pitches. Rays pitchers faced him 15 times in this series. They didn't hit him once.

It’s true

Much was made of last week's All-Star Game and how it was a microcosm of the 2018 season. Of the 90 plate appearances, 44 ended in one of the "three true outcomes." The 49 percent rate was the highest in All-Star Game history. Entering play Sunday, the regular-season rate was 34 percent. Home runs, walks and strikeouts are called "true outcomes" because they're the only events that don't require fielders to play a role.

The American League leaders in three true outcomes visit the Trop today to begin a three-game series. Nearly 40 percent of the Yankees plate appearances this season have ended in a home run, walk or strikeout. Aaron Judge leads the team with a three-true-outcome rate of 52 percent. Giancarlo Stanton is second at 45 percent.

About a third of the Rays' plate appearances have ended in a true outcome this season, the eighth-highest in the AL. Their leader? It's not Cron or Wilson Ramos. It's walkoff wonder Daniel Robertson, whose rate is 40 percent.

Injury updates

• Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria left Saturday night's game because of left oblique soreness and is day-to-day.

"We had the ability to put him on the DL," manager Kevin Cash said, "but we thought that the level of soreness that he had (Sunday) that we could maybe avoid that and have him available potentially (Monday). He's had that experience with multiple oblique injuries, so he knows himself fairly well, and we caught it early enough."

To replace Hechavarria on Sunday, the Rays called up Willy Adames and optioned outfielder Justin Williams to Triple-A Durham, one day after the top prospect made his major-league debut.

"Sending down Justin Williams is tough," Cash said. "I think we pride ourselves on trying not to make those types of quick decisions, but he was on the roster and we needed somebody because of the injuries to the bench lately. It's not ideal, but he'll go down there. I reassured him — we all reassured him — that he's done some good things. He's definitely in the plans as a young player, part of that core we're excited to see what the future brings."

• Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier missed his second straight game because of a bone bruise in his right foot. He got a cortisone shot in the foot Saturday and is hoping to return Monday night against the Yankees.

• Reliever Jonny Venters, out since June 25 because of a strained right hamstring, was scheduled to pitch in a rehab outing for Class A Port Charlotte on Saturday, but the game was rained out. Cash said there's a chance that the Rays might activate him from the disabled list without another rehab outing.

"He's 100 percent healthy in his mind," Cash said. "I expressed that it'd be beneficial for him to pitch, but we just got to see how our bullpen gets through today and potentially tomorrow."

Strawberry signing

Former Mets, Dodgers and Yankees outfielder Darryl Strawberry will be signing autographs and books Monday from 5:40 to 7:10 inside Gate 1 for a $20 donation to Ted Williams Museum charities.

Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.

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