ST. PETERSBURG -- Kelly Shoppach will see reduced playing time during the final month of the season as the Rays want to get a good look at Jose Lobaton at catcher.
"You're primarily going to see Lobaton and [John] Jaso," Joe Maddon said. "And I've already talked to Shop about that, so he's aware about that."
The Rays manager added that Shoppach took the news "really good, he understood."
"It's nothing that he did wrong," Maddon said. "It's just to give Lobaton an opportunity right now. [Lobaton] getting hurt like he did really put us behind the eight ball as far as seeing him. Going into this month, I talked to Shop and he was really good."
Shoppach did not want to offer a comment to reporters.
Shoppach is in his second year with the team and makes $3 million. The Rays hold a $3.2 million club option for Shoppach's services in 2012. Maddon was asked if the use of Lobaton should be perceived as an indication of the club's future plans for Shoppach.
"All you should really draw from it is we want to see more of Lobaton right now more than anything," Maddon said. "We need to evaluate him. We know what we have with Shop pretty much. This thing, who knows, could still change. I'm talking right now, what the plan is to use those two guys more. But as the month is in progress, that door's open to change. But for right now it's more about us seeing Lobaton. And knowing what Shop can do."
Lobaton hit .293 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs in 54 games for Triple-A Durham this season, which earned him a promotion to the Rays on July 14. Unfortunately for Lobaton, he suffered a left knee sprain four days later and missed 43 games during a stint on the disabled list. He is hitting .091 in five games for the Rays. Maddon said Lobaton could figure prominently in next year's plans.
Shoppach, who is hitting .175 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs, has had a nice season behind the plate, throwing out 14 of 35 attempted basestealers. Many of the team's pitchers have expressed that they like pitching to him, too. Nevertheless, Maddon said the plan is for Shoppach's duties to be reduced for now.
"Mostly coming off the bench, the game in progress, if we want to do some things, primarily that way right now," Maddon said.
'Mystery Ball' to be held by Rays wives Saturday
ST. PETERSBURG -- Wives of the Rays will be holding their "Mystery Ball" event Saturday night prior to the Boston-Tampa Bay game at Tropicana Field.
During the event that will benefit St. Petersburg's All Children's Hospital, fans will have the opportunity to purchase a wrapped autographed baseball for $30. A big part of the fun will come in the fact that the wrapping will conceal the identity of the signer, meaning the ball could be signed by any number of players.
Alison Shelton, wife of Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton, said the idea for the Mystery Ball came from a similar event held by the Indians, where Derek had been the team's hitting coach under manager Eric Wedge. Alison said she has often called Wedge's wife, Kate, to get pointers on holding the event.
"That first year in Cleveland, we were sold out in 20 minutes," Alison said.
Derek and company have worked hard at gathering autographed balls from Rays players as well as players from the teams that have played at Tropicana Field this season. A total of 600 balls will be available for sale, including baseballs autographed by the entire 2008 Rays team that went to the World Series.
"The ball you get could be signed by anybody," Alison said.
Rays wives recently got together to carefully wrap each of the baseballs. They will be stationed at Gates 1 and 5 to sell the balls when the park opens at 5:10 ET on Saturday.
A silent auction also will take place outside the Whitney Bank club, where many unique items, such as a Johnny Damon autographed bat, a Sam Fuld glove and a B.J. Upton autographed base, will be up for bid.
"No. 1, with our guys, they're always willing to get behind a charity," Derek said. "But particularly this one since it's All Children's Hospital, a place many of us have taken our kids and a place so close to where we work. They made getting the items very easy. And all of the players were gracious while doing so."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.