Baldelli making case to join Rays as DH
Veteran has third consecutive two-RBI night at Triple-A
ANAHEIM -- Rocco Baldelli is looking like a real option at designated hitter for the Rays.
Baldelli added his third consecutive two-hit, two-RBI night Monday for Triple-A Durham, making him 9-for-27 (.333) with two home runs and seven RBIs with the Bulls.
Rays manager Joe Maddon answered "of course he can" when the possibility of Baldelli joining the team was mentioned.
"That was the plan from the beginning," Maddon said. "We'll see how this all shakes out."
He noted that there are other players at Durham "who have done some good work, too."
"We haven't finalized anything yet, but Rocco is definitely strong," Maddon said. "He's done it before. Believe me, I've watched him take BP with us the last couple of months and there's nothing wrong with his strength level. If he's getting his timing back and he's seeing the ball good, he could be very valuable, particularly against left-handed pitching."
When seen around Tropicana Field for much of the season, Baldelli appeared to be carrying more weight, which could actually augment his power as a DH.
"I'm not concerned about foot speed, so I would imagine strength-wise, it would help him a little bit," Maddon said. "His issues with his [channelopathy] disorder would still be there. We'd have to monitor them. We just couldn't throw him out there and play him. We'll just see how he feels after all this happens and how he gets through it.
"Listen, he's still one of the better baseball athletes I've been on a baseball field with. When you watch him take BP and throw, it's still there."
Maddon tossed for arguing call at second
ANAHEIM -- Rays manager Joe Maddon got ejected from Tuesday's game against the Angels in the top of the fifth after arguing a call at second base.
Evan Longoria had just gotten called out trying to steal second by Angel Campos when Maddon came onto the field to engage in a prolonged argument with the second-base umpire. Campos had also called out Jason Bartlett when he tried to steal second in the fourth inning. Replays of that call seemed to indicate that Bartlett beat the tag.
"Two consecutive calls I didn't like," Maddon said.
The ejection was Maddon's fourth of the season and the 15th as manager of the Rays, which tied Larry Rothschild's franchise record.
"I haven't heard from Larry yet," Maddon quipped. "I haven't checked my e-mail."
Six of Maddon's ejections came against the Angels, the organization for which he served 31 years.
Rays option Thayer, clear spot for Niemann
ANAHEIM -- Right-hander Dale Thayer was optioned to Triple-A Durham after Tuesday night's 10-3 Rays win over the Angels.
Jeff Niemann will be reinstated from the disabled list on Wednesday to make his 23rd start of the season in an afternoon contest against the Angels.
Niemann has been shelved since Aug. 4 with a strained right shoulder, prompting his move to the DL for the first time in his Major League career. The 6-foot-9 right-hander is 10-3 with a 3.12 ERA.
Thayer was recalled Saturday for his second tour with the Rays this season. The right-hander did not make any appearances during this stint. He is 0-0 with a 27.00 ERA in one outing for the Rays this season.
In 41 games for the Bulls, Thayer went 3-1 with three saves and a 3.40 ERA.
Soriano stirs buzz with rare nine-pitch inning
ANAHEIM -- The work Rafael Soriano did Monday night was still being talked about Tuesday. Not only did the Rays closer pick up his Major League-leading 38th save, he did so by striking out the Angels in the ninth on nine pitches.
It was the 44th time in Major League history the feat has been accomplished. Three pitchers have done it twice.
With the Rays clinging to a 4-3 lead, Soriano struck out Erick Aybar on a foul tip, Mike Napoli swinging and Peter Bourjos, who went down swinging.
"I just thought he came out sharp location, sharp velocity," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It wasn't the 89-90 [mph], it was 92 where he wanted it to be, 93. And that's the thing about him. This guy as a closer, he pitches. He doesn't just try to rush a fastball by somebody. He pitches, he locates, he knows what he's doing. He just had exceptional command last night.
"I mean some of those pitches were out of the zone and he got the guys to chase. When you get to two strikes, like the last pitch to Napoli, the elevated fastball is a good pitch right there. But in order to get to that pitch and have him swing, he had to get to 0-2 the way he did. He knows what he's doing."
Rays happy to see Damon stay put
ANAHEIM -- Johnny Damon's possible return to the Red Sox did not come to fruition Tuesday after being a hot topic for the length of a 24-hour news cycle. Damon ended any chance of that happening when he informed the Tigers on Tuesday afternoon that he would not waive his no-trade rights to come back to the team he helped win the World Series in 2004.
"I'm not going," Damon told reporters in Detroit before Tuesday night's Tigers-Royals game.
The Red Sox claimed Damon on waivers on Monday afternoon and would have had until 1:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday to strike a deal with Detroit. Had the Red Sox not claimed him, the Rays would have. So they were happy he did not relocate to their American League East rival.
Rays manager Joe Maddon had teased on Monday night, encouraging Damon to stay put. On Tuesday, Maddon was all smiles about Damon's decision.
"Kudos to John," Maddon said. "I love the fact that he's in Detroit. Just being honest."
When asked if he thought Damon had made the right decision, Maddon again smiled.
"Absolutely," Maddon said. "His personality in that city combined with his baseball abilities can lead to a definite resurgence of the downtown area."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.