Navarro ejected in sixth, bumps ump
Catcher could face suspension after losing temper with Bellino
ST. PETERSBURG -- Dioner Navarro got ejected from Friday night's Rays-Blue Jays game in the sixth inning after arguing with home-plate umpire Dan Bellino.
Grant Balfour had just thrown ball two to Adam Lind to make the count 2-2 with no outs in the inning, when Navarro turned to face Bellino. The Rays catcher began jawing with him, prompting the ejection. At that point, Navarro bumped the umpire.
"[Bellino] had a good strike zone tonight," Navarro said. "I just lost it at that moment and tried to make my point, and I think I said the wrong word, and he rung me up.
"After he threw me out, I just lost my temper. I've got to keep calm, and I've got to know better than that. It was my fault, and we'll see what happens."
Whether the bump was inadvertent or not, chances are Navarro will get suspended, which means a roster move could be in order to have a backup for John Jaso, who would inherit the catching duties.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he did not see the interaction between Navarro and Bellino, but he allowed that if Navarro did get suspended, there would be a good chance that utility man Sean Rodriguez would assume the backup catching duties, which would keep Tampa Bay from having to make a move.
Maddon pleased with Rays' start
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays entered Friday night's action in first place in the American League East with a 12-4 record, which a manager always loves to see. But Tampa Bay skipper Joe Maddon also likes the team that has put together the good beginning.
"It's nice the way they've been getting after it," Maddon said. "Nobody's been complaining about anything. They've been getting ready, they've been playing. In between innings, they come inside, they warm up. Nobody's griping about anything, they're just playing baseball and doing a great job."
Managing this year's group has been fun for the longtime baseball man.
"It's beautiful," Maddon said. "When you don't have to babysit and put out little brush fires because of egos, it is absolutely wonderful. And this group right now is egoless. And they're definitely taking care of themselves and they're very accountable. It's beautiful."
In essence, the character of the players inside the clubhouse has reached the quality the organization hoped to build.
"Yeah, we've been talking about this from back in the day," Maddon said. "I think last year really served as motivation for this year, too. You do the good thing in 2008, you do the not-so-good thing in 2009, but you're learning lessons from both situations. I think we're coming together as a group now, pretty much understanding the right way to do this. [I'm] pretty pleased with their work, win or lose. It's always about the process, and the process has been outstanding."
Kapler impressed with Crawford, Upton
ST. PETERSBURG -- Gabe Kapler recently marveled at the athleticism of the team's left and center fielders, Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton.
In particular, Kapler noted the exceptional jumps Upton gets on the ball and how shallow he's able to play center and still cover the ground behind him.
"It's pretty remarkable," Kapler said. "Andruw Jones played the shallowest center field I've seen. But B.J. plays exceptionally shallow and still runs down balls against the wall. It's pretty impressive to watch."
As for Crawford, Kapler noted: "C.C.'s a center fielder that plays left field very, very well. And his jumps are getting better and better, too. So the combination of those two guys being able to cover the amount of ground they're able to cover makes for few hits."
Howell looking toward a bullpen session
ST. PETERSBURG -- J.P. Howell, who is recovering from a weak left shoulder, threw from 120 feet on Friday and told reporters, "I've got a bullpen [session] right around the corner. It's Monday or Wednesday: it's up to [the Rays]."
He threw back-to-back days on Monday and Tuesday, had Wednesday off, then threw Thursday before throwing again Friday.
Howell said the prognosis still has a targeted return date of mid-to-late May.
"[I'm] not going to push it," he said.
Howell reported that his shoulder "feels great right now."
"I'm pretty thankful where it's at," he said. "So I'm excited."
Injured Joyce taking it easy
ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Joyce, who has been nursing a strained right elbow since Spring Training, went to Birmingham, Ala., on Monday to see Dr. James Andrews, and the Rays' medical director advised rest. Joyce will now rehab in St. Petersburg rather than Triple-A Durham, where he began the season.
Joyce entered Spring Training as a serious candidate to claim the right-field job, but his elbow problem prevented him from making hard throws. He has been able to hit all along.
"It's a relief, I guess," said Joyce of his visit. "There's good and bad news. It was great that nothing was torn or that severe to where I'm going to lose a year or need surgery.
"And it's bad news, obviously, because you're going to miss another couple of weeks here. So I'm just trying to stay positive with it. Obviously, it's ... frustrating to watch the guys on TV. They've done a great job."
Joyce said Dr. Andrews told him there were some abnormalities in the ligament in his right elbow that showed some weak areas.
"And he thought it was a sprain of the ligament," Joyce said. "Obviously, with that, you can't push through that. I asked him if it was something you could throw through, push through, but there was too great a chance of snapping a ligament.
"You take that chance, then you're out for a year and you have to go through surgery, and you're dealing with that for the rest of your career. So right now, just shut it down and let it heal -- do it the right way."
Once Joyce's elbow is healed, he can then begin doing rehab exercises to strengthen the area of concern.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.