June 2, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Sean Rodriguez (1) slides safe into home plate in the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Rays Notes: Bad Decisions, Bad Luck

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Sean Rodriguez was swinging the bat well at Triple-A Durham and had a chance to receive quite a bit of playing time for the Rays in September. But one mistake, and that could be over. Rodriguez punched a locker in frustration following the Bulls’ game Sunday after an incident with a Durham teammate, and in doing so fractured a bone in his hand, sidelining him for who knows how long. Rodriguez said this to Marc Topkin.

“Definitely the dumbest thing I have ever done.”

At least Rodriguez admits his mistake, but it’s unbelievable that he would let something like this happen just a few days before he’s going to get a chance to prove himself in the major leagues again. Rodriguez’s injury could give Reid Brignac a larger opportunity for playing time in September.

The Rays did get good news as well on the injury front as Jeff Niemann is fine after a line drive hit him in the pinky during his last rehab start. Marc Topkin had this to say on Twitter.

The Rays were able to reset their rotation thanks to their off-day on Sunday, but the question here is how they will utilize Niemann- specifically whether they will go into a full-fledged 6-man rotation or not. I would say no because they’re not about to take starts away from David Price and James Shields down the stretch, but we could see Niemann take the place of Matt Moore or Alex Cobb a time or two through the rotation as Cobb has already surpassed his career-high in innings pitched between the majors and minors and Moore is not far from doing the same.

Joey Johnson of the Tampa Tribune had this interesting stat on Twitter.

The Orioles now sit half a game ahead of the Rays in the Wild Card and AL East chases. It’s just bad luck for the Rays and good luck for the Orioles, but hopefully the Rays will prove in September that they’re undeniably the better team.

The 2012 Gulf Coast League season is over, with the GCL Rays finishing 4th in the GCL’s South Division. We’ll have more on the GCL Rays and their players later today as we look back at the season’s results, but infielder Benjamin Kline was named a GCL All-Star on Monday. Kline, 23, posted a .347/.393/.419 line for the GCL Rays in 36 games while seeing time at all four infield positions along with left field. Kline has since moved on to the Low-A Bowling Green Hot Rods and continues to hit well, going 6 for 13 in his first 3 games with the team.

And finally, Joe Stiglich of the Oakland Tribune did a piece on Coco Crisp, which wouldn’t be significant to Rays fans except for the fact that he talked to Joe Maddon about Crisp and how the Rays had pursued him this past offseason. Here’s the relevant excerpt.

“He never gives an at-bat away, that’s the thing I’ve always appreciated about him,” said Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, who saw plenty of Crisp when the outfielder played with Boston from 2006-08. “He’s an energizer. And the power is part of his game that will surprise you on occasion.”

Maddon confirmed that the Rays went hard after Crisp last winter when he was a free agent. And Crisp said upon arriving at spring training that he thought he was Tampa Bay-bound until the A’s upped their offer at the last minute and re-signed him to a two-year, $14 million contract.

A bit later in camp, Crisp had second thoughts about his decision when the A’s shifted him to left field to accommodate Cespedes, who played center in Cuba before signing with Oakland in February.

Crisp went so far as to tell USA Today that had he known the A’s planned to shift him to left, he would have signed with the Rays. By late May, Crisp — whose sure hands and terrific range help offset a weak throwing arm — was shifted back to center and Cespedes settled in left.

Crisp has posted a .254/.314/.397 line overall on the season, slamming 8 home runs and stealing 28 bases. How would Crisp have fit on the Rays? Likely the Rays would have signed him as opposed to Jeff Keppinger, something they can do thanks to the versatility of Ben Zobrist, and we know that Keppinger has been one of the Rays’ best hitters all season. The Rays also would have been in trouble during the time period when both Evan Longoria and Keppinger were out, which would probably necessitated a black hole like Drew Sutton or Brooks Conrad being on the team longer. However, having Crisp under contract wound have made it easier to absorb the blow of losing B.J. Upton following this season. This is something that needs to be talked about more.

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Tags: Jeff Niemann Sean Rodriguez Tampa Bay Rays

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