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Jake Odorizzi, John Jaso set to return this week; Souza sidelined

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As the Rays pick up two more, Souza is sidelined with stitches needed after a hit-by-pitch.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Seven days after the start of a season high seven game losing streak, the Tampa Bay Rays snapped an ugly, ugly skid by beating up on Ivan Nova and the New York Yankees ― taking down the Evil Empire by a score of 8-1.

The game had everything one could ever want in a ball game: good pitching (thanks Erasmo), timely hitting, quality defense, and a comedy of errors by the Yankees. However, one thing was missing from ESPN’s game recap on Baseball Tonight: the Benny Hill Show theme music. Breathe a collective sigh of relief while you can, after all it isn’t going to get any easier for Tampa Bay.

Monday harkens the beginning of a tough stretch of seven games against a pair of division leaders, heading into the All Star Break. First stop Kansas City, where the Rays will take on the reigning American League champions.

The Rays’ roster should be bolstered this week with the expected activations of Jake Odorizzi (left oblique strain) and John Jaso (bruised left wrist) from the DL. The question begs, how will the team make room for Odorizzi and Jaso?

It is all but certain that Alex Colome’s start Monday will be his last (at least for the time being). Odorizzi, who is slated to make his last rehab start tonight with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, is scheduled to return Saturday, leaving either Colome or Erasmo Ramirez to be moved to the bullpen to open a spot in the starting rotation.

The team is weighing several factors ahead of the decision, including who could be more use as a reliever. However, at 7-2 with a 2.17 ERA in his past 10 starts, I cannot see how management could pull Ramirez from the starting rotation. The decision to activate Andrew Bellatti could also factor into things.

As it stands, that decision will be based on the needs of the bullpen.

Jaso moved his rehabilitation assignment to Triple-A Durham, where he went 1-for-5 as the DH on Sunday. He is scheduled to start in left field tonight, then potentially join the big league squad in Kansas City.

Complicating things is Steven Souza's status after the right-fielder suffered an injury in Sunday’s game. After getting hit by a pitch the eighth inning, Souza left the game early with a substantial gash that required stitches in his right pinky.

I can't really bend it too well right now, Souza said after the game. I'm hoping I wake up (today) and it feels a little better. I don't have much feeling in my pinky right now, which is kind of a worry for us.

He continued:

It was a really deep cut. The cut was deeper than the doctor thought it was when he opened it up. … We don't know what's in there.

The right-fielder is expected to see a specialist in Kansas City on Monday. If Souza, who is currently listed as day-to-day, is placed on the DL, the Rays wouldn’t presently need to make a roster move in order to activate Jaso. Otherwise, the team could option Joey Butler back to Triple-A Durham, or part ways with Grady Sizemore. For what it’s worth, Butler is 3-for-his-last-30 with 17 strikeouts, while Sizemore is hitting .360 with three runs and four RBI in his time with Tampa Bay.

Additionally Speaking

Sam Dykstra (MILB.com) evaluated Triple-A park factors.

― Rays prospect, utility player Taylor Motter was named International League Batter of the Week. Motter, an International League All-Star, posted a cool 1.914 OPS over past week, and leads the league in doubles, extra-base hits, and total bases.

Noah Pransky (Shadow of the Stadium blog) wrote about the flawed assumptions made by the Tampa Tribune in their front page Rays’ stadium article.

― In the midst all of the negativity surrounding the Rays during their skid, Dan Shulman (ESPN) put some things into perspective: