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Rays notes: Zobrist nails runner with perfect throw

Published:   |   Updated: April 11, 2013 at 06:43 AM
ARLINGTON, Texas -

The Rays led 2-0 on Wednesday when Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre singled to lead off the eighth inning and LF David Murphy doubled with one out when Rays RF Ben Zobrist turned in the play of the game.

RF Jeff Baker lifted a fly ball to shallow right field. Beltre tagged as Zobrist made the catch. Zobrist's throw to the plate was in time to get Beltre to end the inning and preserve the two-run lead.

“I was really surprised on Zo's throw,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I did not think he had a shot. It was too deep. I was more concerned about the runner going to third base right there, but he made an absolutely perfect throw and (C Jose) Lobaton did a nice job on the other end of it, also.”

RHP Joel Peralta, who was pitching, was behind home plate yelling to Lobaton that he had a play.

“He was yelling, 'You got a chance! You got a chance!' in Spanish,” Lobaton said.

Zobrist's throw reach Lobaton on a fly, which was key, Lobaton said. That meant he didn't have to field the short hop before spinning to make the tag.

“It feels great,” Zobrist said of making that kind of a play. “It's unbelievable, especially in a big situation where we're trying to prevent runs going into the ninth inning.”

Peralta waited for Zobrist at the third-base line and hugged the right fielder.

“He deserved it, big time,” Peralta said. “It's also good for (closer Fernando) Rodney. If that run scores it's a one-run lead.”

Longoria rests, sort of 3B Evan Longoria served as the designated hitter Wednesday afternoon, and it had nothing to do with the weather. The idea was to keep his bat in the lineup while reducing the workload on his hamstrings this season.

With the Rays off today, Maddon saw it as an opportunity to give Longoria 11/2 days off.

“Just get him off his feet, just trying to preserve the number of games he can participate in this year,” Maddon said.

Maddon said he plans to do this throughout the season to keep the biggest bat in the lineup as fresh as possible. It could be a DH day before or after an off day or an off day before or after an off day.

The idea is to limit Longoria to 150 to 155 games.

“Just trying to be proactive with the whole thing and not waiting for something bad or a warning sign that makes you want to do it or have to do it, you'd rather stay in advance of that,” Maddon said.

Niemann surgery Keith Meister performed successful surgery Wednesday morning on RHP Jeff Niemann's right shoulder in which he debrided (cleaned up) Niemann's rotator cuff and labrum.

Niemann, who will miss the rest of the season, said Tuesday the timetable for his return is nine to 12 months.

Minor trade The Rays regained some depth for their minor-league catching Wednesday when they acquired C Juan Apodaca from the Rangers for cash. He was assigned to Triple-A Durham.

Apodaca, 26, is a career minor-leaguer with 10 years of experience in pro ball. He is on the disabled list with a strained right forearm.

Noteworthy DH Luke Scott continued his rehab Wednesday morning by running drills in left field while it was 38 degrees and raining. … Rodney earned his first save of the season. The Rays were the last AL team to earn a save this year. … Add his start against the Rangers in the 2011 ALDS and LHP Matt Moore is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA with three hits allowed in 121/3 innings at Rangers Ballpark. … 1B Leslie Anderson had two home runs and four RBIs in Durham's 10-6 win Wednesday against Gwinnett (Braves) to raise his batting average to .368. CF Jason Bourgeois is batting .444 after driving in four runs with three doubles. RF Wil Myers had two hits and is batting .360. … Maddon wore his Rays Elmer Fudd cap (with ear flaps). He said he was surprised to break it out this season in Texas. “But we did definitely nail it with the letterman jackets,” he said.

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