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Rays

Talks help Zobrist break out of funk

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 06:00 PM
ST. PETERSBURG -

2B Ben Zobrist stayed up late with INF Drew Sutton after going 0-for-4 on June 6 at Yankee Stadium. Zobrist and Sutton took their first steps in pro ball together and were roommates for a couple of years, so if anyone knows Zobrist's swing it's Sutton.

The next day, Zobrist and hitting coach Derek Shelton went over what Zobrist and Sutton talked about and tweaked a few things with his hands during his swing.

"He and Shelty got after it pretty good," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's been pretty much different since that one session. And at some point you get fed up as a player, and you've had enough of this and it's, 'I'm going to do something about this,' especially when you're that good."

Zobrist singled home a run in his second at-bat that night to start a hitting streak that reached six games after his two-hit night Friday against the Marlins. Zobrist also took a streak of five games with at least two hits into Saturday night's game.

"I feel a lot more comfortable at the plate," Zobrist said. "I feel that my hands are working and I'm seeing all the pitches well."

Zobrist was batting .199 the day the streak began. He was batting .545 with three home runs and six RBI during the streak.

The biggest difference is Zobrist is swinging through the ball, which means he's no longer rolling the ball to an infielder. Also, those balls that he was hitting solid but hooking foul are now staying fair.

A good indication that his swing is back is the home run he hit Friday on an 0-2 fastball that was elevated in the strike zone.

When asked for a specific moment when he felt things turned in his favor, Zobrist mentioned the talks he had with Sutton and Shelton.

"We worked on some specific things to make those things happen in a game," he said. "Those two guys have been a big help to me, and so far it's going good."

Fuld update

OF Sam Fuld, who has not played this season because of surgery on his right wrist in March, took his first cuts at a batting tee on Friday and said the surgically repaired tendon in the wrist feels stable.

Fuld says he thinks he can return sooner than had been anticipated.

"Game action, I'm thinking the first week in July," he said. "Back here (with the Rays), that's out of my hands. I have no idea."

Maddon said a rehab schedule has not been set for Fuld.

"He's actually making a lot of good progress," Maddon said. "There's no finish line, but when you talk to him, he's feeling pretty good about it."

Who's on first?

DH/OF Hideki Matsui has been taking ground balls at first base during batting practice to familiarize himself with the position.

Maddon said he's not looking to get starts there for Matsui, he just wants him to be able to handle the position to provide more late-game defensive options.

"The biggest thing there is, game in progress, if you want to do something," Maddon said. "We talked to him about it. He's all for it. If something were to happen you might throw him over there earlier, (but) I'm not planning on it."

Watching James

RHP Alex Cobb said he will be starting for the first time during his professional career on Father's Day, and he is excited because his dad, Rick, will be at the game.

Cobb is winless in his last three starts but feels he is throwing well. He thinks following RHP James Shields, who pitched Saturday, will give him an advantage.

"It's nice for me going behind Shields so I can kind of see how to attack hitters with a similar right-handed pitcher on the mound," Cobb said.

Noteworthy

INF Jeff Keppinger was scratched from Saturday's start with Triple-A Durham because of general soreness. It had nothing to do with his right toe, which he broke May 17. … In the last 25 seasons, only three American League teams have scored at least 11 runs while holding the opponent to one hit. The Rays did it twice — Friday against the Marlins and April 30, 2009, against Boston (13-0). The A's did it June 26, 2005, against the Giants (16-0).

Roger Mooney

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