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Rays

Garza plunked in pocket

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2013 at 04:42 AM
ST. PETERSBURG -

RHP Matt Garza was fined an undisclosed amount - but avoided suspension - for his comments after hitting the Yankees' Mark Teixeira with a pitch Wednesday night.

Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said he learned about the fine from MLB in an e-mail but gave no other details.

Garza refused to comment.

Garza hit Teixeira with an inside pitch in the fifth inning of the Rays' 6-2 loss. Asked afterward if the pitch was retaliation for New York's Joba Chamberlain throwing a pitch near Evan Longoria's head in the previous inning, Garza said, "yes and no."

He went on to say he'd gotten tired of opposing pitchers brushing his teammates back with inside pitches.

"It's about time someone made a statement," Garza said that night. "They did it on Monday and we didn't do anything. They didn't do it too much Tuesday, and he did it again tonight. So I hate to be that guy, but someone had to take a stand and say we're tired of it."

First to 10?

He wasn't named the fifth starter until the day before the season started, and he didn't have much job security at first, but RHP Jeff Niemann can become the Rays' first 10-game winner of 2009 tonight.

Actually, this is the 6-foot-9 Texan's second chance. He lost Sunday at Toronto and fell to 9-5 (3.81 ERA), but tonight he faces a Royals team against which he threw a complete-game shutout June 3.

"I'm still trying to not even look at what we've done," Niemann said of his surprising season. "I'm just trying to get better and build off of each start. At the end of the year, we'll go back and see how it all turned out."

Manager Joe Maddon said he didn't think Niemann might be the first 10-game winner on a staff that returned double-digit winners James Shields, Garza, Scott Kazmir and Andy Sonnanstine.

"And I'm really impressed with what he's done," Maddon said. "The other thing, if you trailed him around between starts, his work has been spectacular."

Niemann is tied with Detroit's Rick Porcello and Toronto's Ricky Romero for most wins among majors rookies, and his winning percentage (.643) is second to Romero's. He owns the Rays' only two complete-game shutouts this year.

Double-A tryout

Amid the flurry of trade-deadline dealing, the Rays made a minor personnel move late Thursday. They claimed switch-hitting C Jose Lobaton on waivers from the Padres and assigned him to Double-A Montgomery.

Matt Quatraro, a Rays minor-league manager at Single-A Bowling Green, managed the 24-year-old Lobaton in the Venezuelan League and liked him.

"He talked to us about him when he got back and feels like he's really got some upside," Friedman said. "He likes him from the left side of the plate quite a bit, likes his receiving ability and throwing."

Lobaton hit .241 with three homers in 39 games at Triple-A Portland and was 3-for-17 (.176) in seven games with the Padres. The Rays moved RHP Troy Percival to the 60-day DL to clear room for Lobaton on the 40-man roster.

Tony Fabrizio

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