ST. PETERSBURG -- Trade rumors are permeating the Internet, which happens every season when the Trading Deadline approaches.
At times, the situation be distracting to a player. But Rays manager Joe Maddon said, essentially, that dealing with said rumors is just part of being a Major Leaguer.
"They just have to wear it, regardless," Maddon said. "It happens every year at this time. It happens to a lot of different teams, a lot of different players. It's just getting started. People start putting trades together on their own and then all of a sudden it gains ground because it's so easy to get your information out on the Internet these days and they think it's true.
"Players should become more accustomed to it and hopefully not be as sensitive to it because it's just going to be there. It's not going to get any better. It's just going to get worse because it's so easy to put a rumor out there and have it catch fire."
Since Maddon is an insider and therefore privy to what trade information is real and what isn't, he was asked if he and Andrew Friedman, the Rays executive vice president of baseball operations, ever sit back and "guffaw" at some of the rumors they read or hear about.
"We did," said Maddon, referring to a rumor that James Shields and Ben Zobrist were going to the Angels in return for right-hander Garrett Richards and infielder Howie Kendrick. "When we saw this one, we did [guffaw]. [Friedman] told me about it. That was pretty funny.
"I'm not denigrating Howie. He's great. He's a great guy, good player. I'm not talking in those terms. Just in general on how these things get started."
Maddon defended those in the media who stir up the rumors, noting that their job is to "create conjecture" -- even though such conjecture might not be fair to the players concerned.
"Absolutely, it's never going to be fair," Maddon said. "But as I tell people, if you're waiting for fairness, you're going to wait a really long time in general. So you have to just wear it. When you do what we do, you have to expect those kinds of things."
Scott returns to DL with oblique strain
ST. PETERSBURG -- Less than a month since coming off of the 15-day disabled list, Rays designated hitter Luke Scott said he's heading back to the DL.
The injury, a mild rear oblique strain, happened in the bottom of the ninth inning of Friday night's marathon game against Seattle on a checked swing. Scott went on to fly out in the at-bat, and as he left the batter's box, his back tightened up.
"It's a tough injury to try and play through," Scott said. "The way I felt coming out of the box and when I took that check swing, I knew something was up. As I went in the dugout, when I was moving around feeling it, it didn't feel good."
Scott previously spent time on the disabled list in mid-June because of a back strain, but said after Friday's game the newest injury was unrelated. Still, Scott is not pleased with how much time he's spent in the training room this season.
"This past year, I've been spending too much time there," Scott said. "But they've been doing a great job of trying to get me going and help me overcome these obstacles. There's still a lot of season left, and that's how I have to look at it."
He added that he doesn't think the injury will sideline him past the 15th day on the disabled list and hopes to do a rehab assignment before he's eligible to return.
Hideki Matsui will likely see more time in the lineup, and was listed as the DH on Saturday, batting sixth. He's struggled at the plate this season, batting just .156 with two homers and seven RBIs in 32 games.
Left-hander Cesar Ramos was called up from Triple-A Durham before Saturday's game to fill out the roster. He will provide more depth to a bullpen that pitched 6 1/3 innings in Friday's 14-inning game.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said another factor in calling up a pitcher was that Alex Cobb and Matt Moore take the mound in the weekend's games, and both starters have struggled at times to work deep into ballgames.
"We're short on the bench, but also, I think the bullpen has been getting kind of abused lately," Maddon said. "We needed to cover ourselves in the bullpen."
Ramos was last up with the big league club in June and has pitched 20 2/3 innings this season with a 1.74 ERA and 17 strikeouts.
Ramos sent down after four-inning outing
ST. PETERSBURG -- After pitching four scoreless innings with six strikeouts, Rays reliever Cesar Ramos was optioned back to Triple-A Durham.
Ramos was called up before Saturday's game, a 2-1 loss to the Mariners, to provide depth for the Tampa Bay bullpen, which had worked 6 2/3 innings in Friday night's 14-inning victory.
The six strikeouts and four innings were both career highs for Ramos as a reliever. At one point in the fourth and fifth innings, he struck out five consecutive batters.
The club did not immediately announce who would take Ramos' spot on the roster but Rays manager Joe Maddon said it would be a pitcher.
Upton looks to join 100-homer, 200-steal club
ST. PETERSBURG -- Anytime a player becomes just the eighth player in Major League history to achieve a milestone, it's pretty special.
Rays outfielder B.J. Upton has one month to join a group of seven players with 100 home runs and 200 stolen bases before turning 28. Upton, whose birthday is Aug. 21, is just one homer shy of 100 and has 217 career steals.
The other players in the group are Rickey Henderson, Cesar Cedeno, Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds, Eric Davis, Lloyd Moseby and Hanley Ramirez. What impresses Rays manager Joe Maddon is what Upton has had to go through since his career began with Tampa Bay.
"His developmental path was so not good, the way he got here, back and forth, and the different positions and the different managers," Maddon said. "All that stuff really would have confused anybody. That part was not optimal but he's fought through that."
The latest home run came Friday against Seattle in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game. Upton had struggled up to that point, striking out in his first two at-bats.
"A lot of guys will have those first two punches and they're done for the night," Maddon said. "That doesn't bother him. He keeps pushing and plugging, and he doesn't listen, he's not going to hear somebody scream his name in a negative way."
B.J. wasn't the only Upton to hit a home run last night. His brother Justin, an outfielder with Arizona, also drilled his 99th career homer, leaving the two in a race to reach the 100-homer mark.
The D-backs' Upton, who is 24 years old, has hit homers at a quicker pace but has just 73 stolen bases in his career.
Niemann progressing, throws off mound
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jeff Niemann has been on the disabled list since fracturing his right fibula on May 14 in a game at Toronto.
The 6-foot-9 right-hander has been making steady progress toward returning to the team. On Saturday he threw from a mound for the first time since the injury happened.
Niemann seemed encouraged after throwing 25 pitches Saturday.
"It's more just being able to use my leg, my push-off leg and do it right," Niemann said. "It was good, great for the first day of real throwing."
Niemann said he still has some inflammation in the leg, which causes some discomfort, but he does not believe that discomfort will affect him. He said he is still getting to a point where he can trust his leg.
"I was probably 50 to 75 percent today push-off-wise," Niemann said. "It was Day 1 today, too. So it was just get back out there and see how it feels. It felt good, so we definitely got more aggressive toward the end. So the next time we definitely know we can push it a little harder."
Niemann compared his schedule to being at the beginning of Spring Training.
"It's an aggressive schedule we're doing," Niemann said. "[The pitch numbers] are going to shoot up fairly quickly. ... It's more about finding my rhythm again and finding all that stuff."