Pre-Game Rays Notes: Luke Scott Off DL, Escobar and Molina Return, Shelley Duncan DFA’d

By Robbie Knopf

It took long enough. Luke Scott hit extremely well in spring training, managing a .324/.378/.765 line (.765!!) with 6 doubles, 3 homers, and 9 RBI in 12 games and 37 plate appearances. After Scott’s tough season in 2011, Rays fans had to be hoping that 2013 would be the season everything came together. However, Scott went on the DL to begin the season for about the most bizarre reason possible–drinking too much alkaline water, leading to his calf injury–and missed the Rays’ first 25 games. Now he’s finally back, though, and the Rays hope he can be a big part of their offense in the coming months. He bats 7th in the Rays’ lineup on Tuesday.

1. Desmond Jennings, CF
2. Matt Joyce, LF
3. Ben Zobrist, RF
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. James Loney, 1B
6. Yunel Escobar, SS
7. Luke Scott, DH
8. Jose Molina, C
9. Ryan Roberts, 2B

Also returning to the lineup are Escobar and Molina. Escobar missed the Rays’ last four games with a hamstring issue, and it was unfortunate timing because he was beginning to break out of his early-season slump, going 8 for his last 29 (.286) with 1 double, 2 homer, and 5 RBI, striking out just once. If there is anything positive from this, it’s that Escobar gets a reset after hitting just .164 in his first 21 games, and hopefully leg two of his season can be better than the first part. Molina missed Sunday’s game after getting hit by a pitch just above his knee on Saturday. Molina could not have picked a better time to get nicked up considering Jose Lobaton was probably going to start the next day anyway before the off-day on Monday, and nice to see him back to the lineup. The Rays offense certainly didn’t miss him, but his defensive contributions are a big part of the Rays’ pitching success.

With Scott coming back, the Rays did have to make a roster casualty, and that was Shelley Duncan, who was designated for assignment. Duncan hit just .182 in 64 plate appearances, but his strikeout to walk ratio was a great 14-9 and it’s a pity that we didn’t get to see whether that patience would turn into some power. Duncan just ran out of time with Scott returning, and the Rays no longer had room for him on the roster. Duncan would have to pass through waivers and then accept an optional assignment to Triple-A to remain in the organization, so he may have played his last game in a Rays uniform.