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Rays ready to swing vs. A’s

Posted Jul 21, 2008 by Marc Lancaster

Updated Jul 21, 2008 at 05:52 PM

The Rays held optional early hitting at 3:45 p.m. today and darn near every position player showed up to take part.

The turnout clearly warmed the heart of Joe Maddon, whose team will once again try to put something on the board against a tough lefty pitcher tonight. Dana Eveland, you may recall, threw an absolute gem against the Rays during their visit to Oakland in May, allowing three hits and one run in nine innings.

In other pregame news, Jason Bartlett looked fine going through running and sliding drills. He estimated he’s at about 80 percent right now, but it sounds like the plan is to activate him Thursday as the Rays open a seven-game road trip.

I expect the corresponding move will be Ben Zobrist going down, but there is a potential complication: the Rays aren’t sure whether they can just roll Bartlett back out there every day at short as he had done earlier. If he isn’t quite ready to do that, they may have to make another move to get him back on the roster, which could be dicey. If he is, Evan Longoria would again become the backup shortstop. We’ll see in a couple of days.

Here are tonight’s lineups, which include former Rays farmhand Wes Bankston start at first for the A’s:

Ellis 2B
Suzuki C
Sweeney RF
Brown LF
Cust DH
Crosby SS
Gonzalez CF
Bankston 1B
Conrad 3B

Iwamura 2B
Upton CF
Crawford LF
Longoria 3B
Pena 1B
Navarro C
Aybar DH
Gomes RF
Zobrist SS
Kazmir P

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