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Rays notes: Losing streak lets Rodney get needed rest

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Published:   |   Updated: April 19, 2013 at 07:35 AM
BALTIMORE -

Remember the concern near the end of spring training over closer Fernando Rodney’s work load in the World Baseball Classic? How those eight appearances piled on top of his innings in winter ball and the Caribbean World Series could result in early season fatigue and force the Rays to monitor his appearances to keep him strong for September?

It hasn’t been much of an issue.

One byproduct of losing streaks is fewer save opportunities for Rodney — four appearances in the first 14 games — and little chance of him being overworked.

“You would think from the one side he has not been overworked, and from the other side he had such a great edge coming out of the WBC that the concern was how was he going to channel that,” manager Joe Maddon said.

Rodney blew his first save opportunity and allowed two runs in his next appearance. His last two outings have been scoreless.

“He’s gotten his rest,” Maddon said. “He’s ready to go.”

It wasn’t just the amount of innings Rodney threw for the Dominican during the WBC. It was the emotional high he experienced in leading his country to the title. Would early season save opportunities prove too mundane for Rodney? Would Rodney be too gassed too early in the year?

“I didn’t know how this was going to play itself out,” Maddon said. “I would like to believe as we get more success we’ll get him in more games consecutively and see him get back to what he looked like at the end of last season, because that’s what he looked like in the WBC. I think in a perverse way it’s been accomplished that he’s not been abused coming out of that and we can use him normally for the rest of the season.”

Two feels good Maddon said he will keep 2B/LF Kelly Johnson in the two spot in the order against right-handers for the foreseeable future.

“I like what he’s doing,” Maddon said. “He’s made some nice adjustments. He and (hitting coach Derek Shelton) and (assistant hitting coach Jamie Nelson) have been working hard. We’ll see how it goes.”

Johnson said he lowered his hands so they are now in position for him to bring them back before starting his swing. Instead of hitting from a standstill, Johnson thinks this creates momentum as he approaches the ball.

“It’s definitely not a drastic change of any kind, but it’s definitely a chance to get the hands going and help with the timing,” Johnson said. “Just trying to tweak and make adjustments as you go, and hopefully I can ride it.”

Johnson began swinging like this Tuesday, the night Maddon moved him up to second. Johnson had three hits during the first six games of the road trip. He had three in the first two games of the Orioles series, including a homer in each game.

“Just a coincidence,” Johnson said.

Myers injures foot Rays top prospect OF Wil Myers suffered a bruised right foot after fouling a pitch off the foot during Thursday’s Durham Bulls game. He was removed from the game for a pinch-runner. The team will know more about his condition after he is examined this afternoon.

“Foot feels fine,” Myers tweeted. “Just a little sore. Hopefully in lineup (tonight)!”

Noteworthy DH Luke Scott (right calf strain) responded well to Wednesday’s heavy workout. He is expected to run the bases this afternoon. A decision on whether Scott is ready to begin a minor league rehab assignment could be made Saturday … LHP Matt Moore (3-0, 1.00) joined Matt Garza as the only pitchers in team history to begin a season 3-0 with an ERA no higher than 1.00. Garza was 3-0, 0.75 in 2010 … 3B Evan Longoria has hit safely in all 15 games this season.

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