ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-handed reliever Juan Oviedo has been in uniform and in the Rays' dugout during the club's current homestand.
"We wanted to keep him attached to the team somehow," Rays manager Joe Maddon said, "and he pointed out to me yesterday that he is 3-0. So you're always welcome here. But that was part of the plan during Spring Training. [Head athletic trainer] Ronnie [Porterfield] and I talked about it in camp, that when we're at home and we can have him here, we should, just to let him become absorbed into the group."
Known as Leo Nunez during his days as the Marlins' closer, Oviedo logged 92 saves from 2009-11 -- eighth most in the Major Leagues in that span -- but he had Tommy John surgery last Sept. 6 and is still in the midst of his recovery.
Maddon said he did not know if Oviedo would be fully recovered in time to pitch for the Rays this season, though he allowed, "I did hear something that the end of the year was possible."
Maddon added: "This guy is going to be a big part of our future."
Tests to clarify Rays prospect Lee's injury
ST. PETERSBURG -- Shortstop prospect Hak-Ju Lee flew down to the Rays' Minor League complex in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Monday to undergo a second MRI exam and determine a course of action for the torn ligaments in his left knee.
Mitch Lukevics, Tampa Bay's director of Minor League operations, said Lee will also visit Dr. Koco Eaton, the Rays' team physician. After Lee's MRI, the Rays should have a better idea regarding the extent of the 22-year-old shortstop's injuries, but it would appear likely that Lee will undergo season-ending surgery.
"There is a pretty good chance, I would say," Lukevics said. "Nothing's definitive, but there's a pretty good chance. ... With ligament damage, there usually is."
Lee, MLB.com's No. 56 prospect overall and the No. 5 prospect in the Rays organization, was involved in a rough collision at second base in the first half of Triple-A Durham's doubleheader on Saturday and left the field without putting any weight on his left leg. In addition to providing his usually excellent defensive work, Lee had gotten off to a much improved start at the plate, batting .422 with a 1.136 on-base plus slugging percentage through 15 games.
For now, Lee is doing limited work with the Rays' training staff in Port Charlotte, icing his knee and keeping it mobilized. Lukevics heard that Lee's spirits were "OK" on Monday but that the shortstop was unsurprisingly disappointed.
"Obviously, he's down in the dumps; it's only human nature to be down in the dumps," Lukevics said. "I know it's his goal -- I know it's our goal -- that we get him back. We're going to get him back playing at some point, and we're going to get a big leaguer out of this."
With Lee likely out of the picture for the rest of the season, former No. 1 overall Draft pick Tim Beckham should pick up most of Durham's starts at shortstop. The Bulls also have middle infielders Cole Figueroa and Mike Fontenot on their roster, however, so Durham can move those three all around the infield, much like the Rays do with their players.
"You know what we do -- we play them all all over, and it's a wonderful thing," Lukevics said. "It's all good. We're going to play them. ... We have to do these things in the Minor Leagues where, if a young man comes up here, hopefully it's not his first time playing at a position in the Major Leagues, the toughest level."
Free of pain, Scott anticipates brief rehab stint
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays slugger Luke Scott will begin a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Charlotte on Tuesday.
"I passed my test yesterday and came in today with no soreness, no stiffness," Scott said. "So I'm going to go down tomorrow to Port Charlotte, [Fla.], and start the process of coming back."
Scott has been out with a right calf strain since March 24. He does not believe he needs a long rehab stint.
"For me, all I have to do is get on the fastball," Scott said. "They want me to go down there and want me to play to see how my leg reacts. I've done this process before, and I know what I need to get better."
Scott said he won't be with the Rays by the time they go on the road following Wednesday night's series finale against the Yankees.
"Can't do that, because I'm going to play [on Tuesday], and Wednesday is going to be off to see how I react to [playing Tuesday]," Scott said. "And then Thursday, I'll play again and just go from there."
But Scott believes he'll be back soon.
"Oh, I'll catch them on the road trip at some point," Scott said.
Whether Scott will play the field during his rehab stint remains to be seen. What's known is that he will be the Stone Crabs' designated hitter on Tuesday, and he expects to have four at-bats.
Instincts behind Maddon's advice to Yunel
ST. PETERSBURG -- Yunel Escobar went 3-for-4 with a home run and a double in Sunday's 8-1 Rays win over the A's. After spending the previous five games hitting ninth for the first time since his rookie season, Escobar moved up to sixth in the order on Monday night against the Yankees.
It didn't take long for the move to pay off, as Escobar took ace left-hander CC Sabathia deep with two outs and a runner on in the bottom of the first, extending the Rays' lead to 4-0. Escobar, who was hitting .089 (4-for-45) over his first 13 games of the season, credited Joe Maddon for the turnaround, as the Rays manager gave him a tip.
Maddon seemed surprised Escobar had mentioned that he had given him a tip, then the manager explained the advice he offered his shortstop.
"I'm an old hitting coach by trade," Maddon said. "There are different things I used to do back in the day. The part of him that I had seen or thought I had seen, there were a lot of balls off the end of the bat, and he's really a strong fellow. It's not like he's late; he's never been late. He's not long, he's not late, he's on the end of the bat -- so what's going on here?
"I just suggested a bigger, longer, heavier bat, and just thinking the logic through that. He just has a little more coverage with the end of the bat and it's a little bit heavier, which forces you to use your hands more and not so much your arms. That was pretty much it. And he's responded pretty well."