We know that Joe Maddon likes to be creative in choosing his batting orders. But Friday night’s lineup is simply something else. Here’s what you’ll see when the Rays come to bat in just a few minutes.
James Loney and Yunel Escobar are both out of the lineup, Loney on paternity leave–he’ll be out three days–and Escobar because of a mild hamstring strain suffered this past Sunday. Loney’s absence allowed the Rays to call up Ryan Roberts, who starts at second base with Ben Zobrist sliding over to shortstop to cover for Escobar. Kelly Johnson will make just his second career start at first base in play of Loney. A few other thoughts about this lineup:
1) Says a lot that Ryan Roberts is starting over Sean Rodriguez despite having been banished to Triple-A for the past several days. He’s truly a major league player lost in the roster crunch.
2) Interesting that the Rays would rather have Johnson at first base instead of Scott, who has more experience there. Also could have been a perfect opportunity to give Evan Longoria a half-day. But putting Longoria at DH after four days off is pretty crazy and you certainly don’t want to disrupt the unbelievable run that Scott has been on, so instead the Rays will hope Johnson can do a good job at first base.
3) Definitely a good sign that Escobar hasn’t gone on the DL, but if he has to miss a few more days, the time may have finally come for former No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham to get the call to the major leagues replacing Roberts thanks to his ability to play shortstop. Maybe that’s a little bit of a stretch–we know Rodriguez can play short–but it would not be the biggest surprise in the entire world if it does happen. Beckham has a .268/.328/.377 line in 355 plate appearances at Triple-A including a strong .286/.352/.408 line in his last 12 games.