Davis, Niemann to have shoulders examined
Starters head back to Florida to meet with Rays' medical staff
TORONTO -- Prior to Sunday's contest against the Blue Jays, Rays righties Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis were sent to Florida to be examined by the team's medical staff.
Both starters had been experiencing posterior right-shoulder soreness over the past couple days.
While it was noted following Saturday afternoon's 17-11 loss to the Jays that Niemann would not make his scheduled start on Sunday -- replaced by Andy Sonnanstine -- the development with Davis was unexpected.
Following his six-inning performance against the Twins on Thursday, where he surrendered six runs on ten hits, Davis said he felt fine. After a couple days of increasing stiffness, manager Joe Maddon and his training staff decided to send both Niemann and Davis back to Florida for precautionary reasons.
"Sure their is always concern," Maddon said. "These are two really valuable people and players for us. Again, Jeff keeps telling me, 'I feel better, I feel better, I feel better,' but then just doesn't get right over the hump, so we want to make sure. It's almost the same thing with both of them, they just need to be looked at. We all need to know that we're not going to hurt them by [overworking] them.
"We'll just know more after they're both examined [Monday], and we can make more definitive plans."
Davis, who was slated to start on Tuesday in Detroit, will likely be skipped in the rotation this time around in favor of Jeremy Hellickson.
Although nothing was set in stone, Hellickson was scratched from his start in Triple-A Durham on Sunday just in case the contingency plan came to fruition.
In his first Major League start on Monday against the Twins, Hellickson threw seven innings of two-run baseball en route to a 4-2 victory.
Shields struggles to find rapport with Jaso
TORONTO -- Following Saturday's 17-11 thrashing by the Blue Jays, Rays starter James Shields mentioned that he was unable to establish a "flow" with catcher John Jaso.
Shields, who tied a Major League record by surrendering six home runs, has boasted significantly different splits when pitching to Jaso and Tampa Bay's other two catchers, Kelly Shoppach and Dioner Navarro.
Through 65 1/3 innings with Jaso, Shields has posted a 6.75 ERA with an opponents' batting average of .314. In contrast, over a combined 81 1/3 frames between Navarro and Shoppach, Shields has an ERA of 3.32.
Despite being well aware of the drastic difference in splits, manager Joe Maddon does not want to outlaw the Jaso-Shields tandem just yet.
"I honestly don't think Jaso is a bad pitch caller," Maddon said. "I don't. I think he's got a pretty good feel for what's going on out there. And at the end of the day the pitcher is always responsible for calling the pitch that he wants to throw. That's one thing we've always talked about from Day 1. I've [seen] a lot of improvement with Jaso this year, and that was a pretty good hitting ballclub yesterday.
"I think Jerry Grote could have caught yesterday, Johnny Bench could have caught yesterday and Therman Munson could have caught yesterday."
Rays outfielder Carl Crawford was back in the Rays' starting lineup after two days off on Sunday, batting second and playing left field. With an off-day coming up on Thursday, Maddon expects Crawford to remain in the starting lineup on a regular basis moving forward. ... B.J. Upton stole third base on Saturday for the 10th time this season and the 21st time over the past two seasons -- the most in Major League Baseball. Upton has half of the Rays' team-leading 20 steals of third this season. ... Saturday afternoon's performance marked a lot of team records: the eight homers allowed in one game, the nine extra-base hits allowed by starter James Shields, the 12 extra-base hits allowed by the entire staff, combined nine home runs from both teams, the combined 16 extra-base hits from both teams and the 11 runs scored by the Rays in a loss tied the team's previous record -- all three times against the Blue Jays.
James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.