ST. PETERSBURG -- As much attention as Carlos Pena's catch that sent him head over heels drew, pitcher Wade Davis' defense in the dugout was almost as impressive.
Pena ran into the dugout railing while reeling in David DeJesus' foul ball to make the second out of the fourth inning in the Rays' 3-2 loss to the Royals on Friday night, and Davis was there to catch the 2008 American League Gold Glove first baseman. Pena was unscathed, but Davis wasn't quite so lucky. Davis said Saturday he felt great physically, adding that it might be the best he's felt in a long time, but Pena said the collision did more harm to his teammate than to him.
"I'm fine. I had some teammates backing me up, so they saved my life," Pena said. "I stepped on his leg and tore his uniform, made him bleed and everything. I made sure he was fine, and he's doing OK."
Pena said he thought he had more room on the play than he actually did and checked to make sure he had adequate space to hustle down the ball. He just forgot about the railing.
"Once you make that commitment, it's kind of hard to stop, and of course I did have room, it's just that my momentum took me over the fence," Pena said. "So I'm glad I had my teammates there to pick me up, because I went in there very violently.
"If it weren't for my teammates, that would have hurt."
-- Adam Berry
Navarro records first hit since April 24
ST. PETERSBURG -- The 2010 season is a little less than a month old and Dioner Navarro admits this has been his toughest year yet as a Major Leaguer. It's hard to fathom considering what Navarro experienced in '09 when his batting average decreased by 77 points from a career-high .295 in '08.
"Whew, yeah, it's been rough and just real frustrating," said Navarro, who returned Thursday from a two-game suspension for making contact with home-plate umpire Dan Bellino on April 23 against Toronto. "I don't like to have to sit and watch and not be able to help. I had a good Spring Training going there. I did what I had to do to get ready for this season, and then I had to miss two weeks with a leg injury, then I get a suspension. It's been hard for me this year."
The 26-year-old catcher had been hitting .421 (8-for-19) in the spring when he suffered a bruised nerve in his left leg March 20 against the Twins on a collision at the plate with Jacque Jones. He did not return to action until a few days before the regular season.
Entering Saturday's game, Navarro was batting .136 with just two RBIs, and was hitless in his past 20 at-bats dating back to April 24, when he doubled off of the Orioles' Brad Bergesen. Even more glaring, his replacement, John Jaso, has been red hot, batting .400 with one home run and 10 RBIs in helping the Rays go 7-1 in his eight starts.
In Saturday's loss to the Royals, Navarro was 1-for-4 with one strikeout.
"It's hard right now, because obviously the team is playing great baseball and Jaso is playing awesome," Navarro said. "You feel like you want to be a part of it and you want to be out there to help the team win games. It's frustrating being on the bench, but when we're kicking butt like we are, it's kind of easy because they're doing what they're doing. But of course I want to be out there helping."
Navarro will get a chance to help in all three games in Seattle when Tampa Bay begins a nine-game road tripk, according to Rays manager Joe Maddon
"I was really prepared to have Jaso catch another night and have Navi go tomorrow, but we agreed it was the right time to rest Jaso," Maddon said. "It was more because there was some fatigue on Jaso's part more than anything else. It will all work itself out with Navi going up against three lefties in a row in Seattle."
Seattle is slated to start Jason Vargas (2-1, 3.60 ERA), Cliff Lee, who had a no-decision in his debut Friday, and Ryan Rowland-Smith (0-1, 5.28 ERA). For his career, Navarro is 0-for-1 against Vargas, 0-for-10 against Lee and 2-for-6 with a home run and two RBIs against Rowland-Smith.
Despite the disappointing start, the fourth-year catcher is hoping a fresh mohawk haircut with a nifty design carved into the side will help change the tide.
"It's inspiration from my children [sons Gerson and Dioner Jr.]," Navarro said. "It's something my homeboy did on a visit to our house. We'll see what happens."
-- Chris Girandola
Rays skipper Maddon talks shop
ST. PETERSBURG -- A 350, four barrel, 377 horsepower, aluminum block.
Joe Maddon rattled off the vital statistics of his newly purchased 1972 Chevelle Malibu as if he was talking just as proudly as one of his star players.
The Rays' manager talked at length before Saturday's game about his prized possession and about his first drive in it to Tropicana Field.
"It's all about fun, having fun, and on the way in here, a guy on a motorcycle stops next to me and says, 'The boys are looking good,' and 'I like the new look,'" Maddon said.
Maddon had the assistance of Rays radio announcer Dave Wills in making the purchase and the approval of Rays Minor League pitching coordinator Dick Bosman, who are both car afficionados.
"I had a [Chevy] Impala in mind in Illinois and Dave told me about a buddy of his in Matteson, Ill., who had this car in the showroom at the South Oak Dodge [dealership]," Maddon said. "As soon as I saw it and test drove it, I changed my mind and had to get it. Ironically, when it arrived, Bos happened to be here and checked it out. So it's just been perfect."
The convertible with a "candy-apple blue" color (as Maddon describes it) is something of a motivator as well.
"As long as we're winning, I'll keep [the top] down," Maddon said. "If it's the other way around, I'll go back to the Jeep."
-- Chris Girandola
The Rays rewrote their franchise record book with a number of club-best statistics last month. Their 17-6 record in April was the third-best month in team history, behind June 2004 (20-6) and August 2008 (21-7), and they have posted the best record by any Major League team through 23 games since 2003. Tampa Bay set franchise records for April in runs scored (144), RBIs (141), walks drawn (96), strikeouts (170) and ERA (3.13). The 3.13 ERA is the second lowest in club history for any month, falling behind only June 2009 (3.07). ... Matt Garza became the second Rays pitcher to win four games in April, joining Andy Sonnanstine, who did the same in 2008. He pitched to a 2.06 ERA, the best by a Tampa Bay starter in April and the eighth-best ERA in team history. ... The Rays' 9-1 road record is second only to the 2002 Mariners (10-1) for the best road record in April over the past 25 years. ... Tampa Bay leads the league in run differential, having scored 68 more runs than it has allowed (144 to 76). In fact, it is the 11th-highest margin since 1900. ... Rock and Roll Hall of Famers ZZ Top will perform after Saturday night's game against the Royals as part of the 2010 Summer Concert Series. The Rays are 17-2 on Summer Concert Series nights since 2008.
-- Adam Berry
Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Chris Girandola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.