Rays Notes: Sale Suspension, Niemann Returns, Joyce Injury, Rodriguez Timetable

By Robbie Knopf

Rays fans got sudden and stunning news on Tuesday afternoon as 2010 first round pick Josh Sale, who was enjoying a fine 2012 season, tested positive for meth, the 4th such player on the Low-A Bowling Green Hot Rods to test positive for that substance, and will serve a 50-game suspension. It seemed strange that Sale’s suspension was announced later than his teammates who were suspended, but now, thanks to Twitter, we have a better idea of what’s going on.

"Sale “I believe my suspension is unwarranted and that I did not take any banned substance.”— Micheal Compton (@mcompton428) August 28, 2012"

We would love to give Sale the benefit of the doubt, but pretty much he tested positive, he appealed, he lost, and he gave up. End of story. Hopefully this is a one-time deal and we never hear of anything like this again.

Marc Topkin has reported that Jeff Niemann has completed his rehab and will start Saturday (September 1st) for the Rays. Niemann is expected to not necessarily join the Rays rotation, but get a start here and there as the Rays need. David Price and James Shields are still expected to start every 5th day to give the Rays the best chance to win.

Niemann is coming back, but now both Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez are hurt. Here are the latest updates on them.

Good thing Joyce should be OK (Sam Fuld should start in his absence), but Rodriguez has really hurt the team with his actions (punching a locker and fracturing his hand) and now the Rays will have to figure out their shortstop situation for September assuming that he won’t come back.

And now let’s get to a few minor league notes.

Leslie Anderson put together his best season in the minors in 2012, posting a .313/.362/.462 line with 21 doubles, 14 homers, and 55 RBI in 110 games. Anderson is 30 years old and apparently out of the Rays’ plans, but his 2012 season could cause another team to give him a chance next season.

No affiliate changes for the Rays next season as the Rays have decided to extend their player development contract with the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs through 2014. The Rays could have considered other High-A affiliates, with several teams possibly available in the California League, but with their spring training in Port Charlotte, it made plenty of since to keep their High-A affiliate there.

The Rays also decided which minor league players to send to the Arizona Fall League, but we’ll talk about that in detail later today.