Notes: Rays have tough road ahead
Club will play 52 of its final 85 games vs. top teams
CLEVELAND -- Beginning with the Cleveland series, the Devil Rays will play 52 of their final 85 games against teams currently with records of .500 or better; that does not include games against the Yankees, who entered Friday night's action at 36-39. This trip also includes three games against the Red Sox, which will be the first games between the teams this season. So of those 85 games to be played, 18 will be against the Sox.
"We play well against teams above .500," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm good with that."
"It ain't going to be easy," Carl Crawford said. "That's for sure. ... We're just going to have to keep going out and playing hard. Play hard and play smart. That's all we can do. I really don't have a detailed explanation about what we can do, just that."
Despite losing four straight to the White Sox, Crawford isn't worried about a hangover from the sweep.
"This team, it does a good job of forgetting the bad stuff that happens," Crawford said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we just came back and go off on a run. We're just one of those teams that can forget real quick."
As for the coming games against the Yankees and Red Sox, Crawford said the Rays aren't intimidated.
"We play them all the time," Crawford said. "We know we have to play them that many times. So it's not that intimidating. It's going to be tough, we know that, but we're not scared."
Crawford noted the importance of the coming 10-game stretch against Cleveland, Boston and Kansas City.
"It's going to be big because going into the All-Star Game, we need to get some momentum for the second half," Crawford said. "And we didn't do that at home in those four games against the White Sox. We had won two games against a good team, the Dodgers, and I thought we'd do well against the White Sox. That didn't happen."
Upton update: B.J. Upton did not play for Vero Beach on Friday night as scheduled. Upton, who is rehabbing a strained quadriceps, was said to be feeling fatigued. Rays spokesperson Jason Latimer reported that Upton was held out for precautionary purposes.
Acclimating to the 'pen: Casey Fossum once pitched in the bullpen, so he had an idea about what pitching in the bullpen was all about, but returning to the bullpen this season has caused adjustments for him.
"I think it's all about preparation and knowing when to get warmed up," Fossum said. "Coming out there and being relaxed. ... Just try to stay relaxed is the biggest thing I've found. Kind of take my stuff to the bullpen and be relaxed with it. Really concentrate on each pitch."
In fairness to Fossum -- who has struggled on the mound this season -- he did have shoulder surgery in September. Getting used to the limited recovery time is another aspect with which Fossum has had to reacquaint himself.
"I think sometimes it's my body more than my arm, but it's good," Fossum said. "I know I'm off the mound every day as opposed to twice a week. So it's different. I understand how hard it is to pitch out of the bullpen. I think it's just something I have to get in shape for, just like if I were to run a marathon."
Fossum said the hardest adjustment has been mental.
"Just knowing you've got a chance to get in the game every day," Fossum said. "As opposed to starting, now you have a chance to pitch every day. It's not hard; it's just a totally different adjustment to me."
Maddon recently said he believes Fossum is becoming more comfortable in the relief role.
"And I say that because when I go out there to give him the ball, he looks very relaxed," Maddon said. "Before, he looked all amped up, now he looks very calm. And he's ready to do his job. So I think he's ready to get the hang of it again."
Up next: The Rays play the second game of their four-game series against the Indians on Saturday night in a 7:05 ET contest. Left-hander J.P. Howell will start for the Rays and will be opposed by left-hander C.C. Sabathia.
Bill Chastain is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.