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Sunday, Apr 20, 2014

Starting rotation juggled

Published:   |   Updated: March 20, 2013 at 05:09 PM

There are two reasons behind the juggling of the rotation that flipped LHP David Price, who starts Sunday, and RHP Jeremy Hellickson, who starts Monday. One is to limit Hellickson's innings this season. The other is to give Price a start against the Yankees and the Red Sox on the upcoming road trip.

"One of those quirky things that we're doing," manager Joe Maddon said.

Mostly, it is to guard against overusing Hellickson this season.

The Rays' Way is to have young pitchers increase their total innings over the previous season by no more than 20 percent. The Rays would like Hellickson, who has already thrown 1222/3 innings, to top off in the 170 to 180 range. That total would include the postseason.

So Hellickson, who was supposed to start Sunday, now starts Monday.

"We had different scenarios were we were going to give him a lot of rest, but we chose to go this way," Maddon said. "We expect to get back in this thing and get to the playoffs. If it looks as though it's not (going to happen) toward the end of the year then you could really back off at that point, so you have that option, too. But for right now, the way we have it figured out, it's going to be really close, but we're comfortable with it right now."

The Hellickson Plan is the reason the Rays are using a six-man rotation, though Maddon said that might be nearing its end.

"It's getting close to the finish line with it," Maddon said. "We'll probably reevaluate after the doubleheader in Boston. It's all tied together. It's a master plan."

The doubleheader is Aug. 16 in the middle of a six-game stretch against the Yankees and Red Sox. If the Rays feel they are still in the hunt, they will continue to limit Hellickson's innings. If not, he'll likely be shut down at some point in September.

Extra extras

CF B.J. Upton had an 11th-inning double and a 12th-inning triple while LF Desmond Jennings had a 10th-inning home run and an 11th-inning double during Thursday's 7-6, 12-inning win against the Blue Jays.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the first time since 1961 that two teammates accomplished that feat in the same game. According to Stats Inc., they are the first Rays to get two extra-base hits in extra innings of the same game since Toby Hall had two doubles against the Indians on Aug. 18, 2003.

Also according to Elias, the Rays are the fifth team in major-league history to score runs in the 10th, 11th and 12th innings of an extra-inning game. The Marlins and Phillies did it against each other in 1998 and the Royals and Diamondbacks did it against each other in 2005.

One more from Elias: C Robinson Chirinos became the sixth rookie since 1971 to drive in the game-tying and go-ahead runs in extra innings of the same game, joining Bucky Dent (1974), Andre Robertson (1982), Brian Hunter (1995), Ryan Ludwick (2003) and Nick Green (2004).

Speaking of Chirinos

Maddon said the time is nearing for the rookie Chirinos to face left-handed pitchers, which up to now has been C Kelly Shoppach's role.

Chirinos, who started Friday, had yet to have an at-bat against a lefty. Shoppach is hitting .247 against lefties.

School supplies wanted

The Rays' wives and Waste Management are collecting new or used backpacks and school supplies for the PACE Center for Girls this weekend. Fans are asked to bring donations to the Bagster bag collection inside Gates 1 and 5. Fans who donate can register to win Rays tickets and prizes.


The nine extra-base hits by Jennings entering Friday's game were fourth-most in the majors and second-most in the AL since his call-up July 23. … The members of the Go-Go's, who performed after Friday's game, threw out first pitches. So did talk show host Wendy Williams. … Rays pregame and postgame radio host Rich Herrera is not working this week for personal reasons.

Roger Mooney