ST. PETERSBURG -- Outfielder Gabe Kapler played the first game during his rehab assignment on Friday in Port Charlotte, Fla. -- going 0-for-2 with a walk.
Kapler, on the 15-day disabled list with a right hip flexor strain, will finish out his four-day assignment before returning to the Rays next week, most likely in time for the team's two-game series in Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday. He played right field on Friday and was the designated hitter for Saturday's game with the Stone Crabs.
"Kap had a good night," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He felt good."
Maddon defended Kapler against criticism for his less-than-impressive statistics this season. The right-handed hitting Kapler is known for his ability to hit left-handed pitching, but he is batting just .215 against lefties this season and .217 overall. Kapler went through similar struggles at the beginning of last season, Maddon noted, but he bounced back around this time last year.
"Regardless of what people say, this guy over the last couple years has been one of the top right-handed hitters against left-handed pitchers in baseball. And right now, he's been struggling a bit," Maddon said. "But as long as he tells me he's healthy, I'm going to believe that's going to come back to him.
"A guy like Kap, for me, you've just got to keep putting him out there until it starts coming back to him. What I look at, it's that the guy's not too old, he's not out of shape, there's nothing debilitating. He's had a little bit of a setback right now, but there's nothing that indicates to me that he doesn't have a chance to do what he did last year. Sometimes you've got to be patient, you've got to show faith in certain people and you'll get rewarded."
Shoulder continues to bother Crawford
ST. PETERSBURG -- Carl Crawford said his left shoulder was feeling a little better on Saturday, but he remained out of the lineup against Arizona, and may not even be ready to return on Sunday.
Crawford left Thursday's 5-3 win over the Padres after the second inning with a sore left shoulder. He only entered Friday night's 1-0 loss to the D-backs as a pinch-runner and is still day-to-day. The All-Star outfielder said he would be available to pinch-run if necessary.
"It's a little better," Crawford said. "I've got to feel like I can play. It's simple. If I feel like I can play, then I'll be back in the lineup."
The left fielder said he had not discussed a trip to the disabled list and hasn't had an MRI. He hopes to be back in his usual second spot in the lineup and in left field for Sunday's series finale. If he's not ready to go, he will wait it out for as long as it takes.
"He felt a little bit better today, actually. I still don't know 100 percent as to when he's going to be able to come back or play in the outfield or even DH," Rays manager Joe Maddon said Saturday. "I'm not sure. He's not going to do that [Saturday]. He'll be a pinch-runner if necessary."
Maddon inserted Crawford as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning during Edwin Jackson's no-hitter Friday night, and Crawford may have reaggravated the shoulder he hurt on Wednesday making a throw. Crawford ran for Carlos Pena and had to dive back to first base after a number of pickoff attempts by Jackson. He was eventually caught stealing second, and Maddon said Crawford may have hurt his shoulder again by putting his left arm down to guard while heading to second.
"I kinda strained it again [Friday], so I was a little disappointed about that," Crawford said. "I told him before the game that I could run, but I didn't think nothing would happen. I kind of hurt it again doing that. Hopefully we'll be a little more cautious today, but I'd still like to run if I could. I just have to find a way to not use my arm when I dive back to the base or when I slide."
Rays are moving forward after no-no
ST. PETERSBURG -- As tough as it was for the Rays to lose 1-0 and find themselves on the wrong end of a no-hitter for the third time in 12 months on Friday night, manager Joe Maddon said the team had to immediately move on.
Maddon said he didn't lose any sleep over Edwin Jackson's no-hitter, instead trying to think of ways for Tampa Bay to bounce back and beat D-backs right-hander Ian Kennedy on Saturday.
"That game, we lost 1-0. It was a no-hitter. Doesn't really feel like one when you have 10 baserunners," Maddon said. "It doesn't really matter. It matters that we lost 1-0 and are just trying to win this series.
"It's not about yesterday. It's about today," Maddon continued. "For me today, it's all about trying to beat Kennedy."
Maddon continued to praise Jackson, a member of the 2008 Tampa Bay team that made an improbable run to the World Series. The manager often saw Jackson get off to rough starts like on Friday night, as he walked seven batters in the first three innings. But the right-hander built on that and was able to get deep into the game -- something Maddon said he wasn't able to do when he would stumble out of the gate with the Rays.
"There are not many guys out there who can throw that many pitches and repeat their delivery as well as he did last night. There's only a handful, and I really believe that," Maddon said. "He's just unique in that way. He showed us that a few years ago. I know that was a little bit hefty last night, but he has that tremendous ability.
"He caught us at the right time offensively. We were just unable to take advantage of that early part of the game. He took care of his part."
Maddon gives his club a history lesson
ST. PETERSBURG -- Looking for inspiration and a positive spin after watching his team get no-hit for the second time this season, Rays manager Joe Maddon found an unlikely pairing in the annals of history.
The 1917 White Sox were no-hit twice in a two-day stretch, but went on to win the World Series, four games to two over the New York Giants. Maddon displayed an extensive knowledge of that club Saturday afternoon, reeling off stats and names to the media. If he has his way, the 2010 Rays will model themselves as the White Sox did nearly a century ago.
"I'm looking for that positive vine, and there it was. I liked it, actually," Maddon said. "This [Chicago] team led the league that year, I think, in runs scored and a lot of big departments. But a very interesting group, it's an interesting stat.
"I looked them up. Quite a team. A hundred wins, 54 losses. [Eddie] Cicotte, [Ray] Schalk -- the catcher, he's a Hall of Famer, Shoeless Joe [Jackson], Eddie Collins."
The Tampa Bay skipper noted how impressive it was that Cicotte threw 346 2/3 innings and how the team's top home run hitter, Happy Felsch, had only six long balls, recounting from memory Felsch's stats:
"[Felsch had] six homers, 102 RBIs, hit .308, the top hitter on the team, the Triple Crown winner of the team, and he was one of the few guys who struck out a couple more times than he walked, which I thought was OK, based on his numbers," Maddon said.
The manager of that White Sox team was Clarence Henry "Pants" Rowland. Given the way Maddon has insisted on wearing long, blue-striped socks with his uniform lately, he might even be on his way to a similar nickname.
"'Socks' Maddon," he said.
Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.