Notes: Doubleheader decision pending
With Howell set for nightcap, Rays undecided for first game
ST. PETERSBURG -- A decision on who will start the first game of Saturday's day-night doubleheader against the Yankees will likely happen after Friday night's contest.
J.P. Howell will be recalled from Triple-A Durham to pitch the second game, the question is whether he will have company when he makes the trip to New York.
Rays manager Joe Maddon hinted strongly that right-hander Jason Hammel could be the guy to start the first game, but using him would be contingent upon what happens in Edwin Jackson's start Friday night.
If Jackson does not get to the fifth inning or deeper, it's likely Hammel would be the guy to come in from the bullpen to pitch in long relief. If Jackson does well, Hammel will likely be Saturday's starter.
If Hammel is used in long relief, the Rays could raid the Durham rotation for another starter, likely Jae Kuk Ryu. Ryu pitched for the Bulls on Monday.
Depending on what the Rays decide, one, or maybe two roster moves will need to be made. One of the moves will definitely be to move a position player to make room for Howell.
Cat shots: Carlos Pena doubled off the "B" ring catwalk in the sixth inning of Wednesday night's 7-2 win, extending his career-high hit streak to 14 games. The streak is the longest on the team this season, the longest current streak in the Major Leagues and tied Pena for the fifth-longest streak in club history. In addition, the "cat shot" was his fourth fair ball to hit the catwalk this season, tying Jonny Gomes (2006) for the most catwalk shots in one year.
When asked about hitting the catwalk, Pena smiled.
"I think it adds another level of play that the fans can enjoy," Pena said. "Now we hit a fly ball, and we run because we know what's up there."
Whether Pena's shot would have cleared the wall had it not hit the catwalk remains a mystery.
"I thought I had enough of it," said Pena, who didn't stand and watch. "Hey, I don't wanna find out. We'll take the three runs and a double. That's fine."
Navvy struggles: Dioner Navarro has struggled offensively this season, hitting .179 with one home run and 15 RBIs in 64 starts behind the plate. But the Rays catcher is 3-for-7 over the last two games and has the support of his manager.
"People only pay attention to somebody's batting average," Maddon said. "Navvy does this all the time. Navvy does a lot of things well, and right now he's getting scrutinized and criticized based on his batting average, but he's throwing out more runners on a consistent basis. He's blocking more balls in the dirt. He's really doing a better job calling games. He's bunting for hits and running the bases well."
Wilson impressive: With Brendan Harris getting a much-needed day of rest Thursday, Josh Wilson took Harris' place at shortstop.
Wilson was acquired off waivers from the Nationals on May 10, the day the Rays optioned Ben Zobrist to Durham. Since then, Wilson has shown a nice bat, above-average fielding skills and he even threw a successful inning of relief in a lopsided loss to the Marlins. Wilson has made a good impression on Maddon.
"I think he's going to hit more than people want to give him credit for as he gains more experience," Maddon said. "Guys like that sometimes just need an opportunity, and all of a sudden, they become pretty good Major League ballplayers."
Up next: The Rays will take to the road to play the Yankees on Friday night in the first game of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium. Jackson (1-9, 7.14 ERA) will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Mike Mussina (4-6, 4.61).
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.