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Tampa Bay Rays’ Scott being patient

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Published:   |   Updated: March 8, 2013 at 09:55 AM
FORT MYERS -

Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Luke Scott took a few steps forward Monday morning in the clubhouse while discussing the left hamstring he injured during Sunday’s game.

They were normal steps.

Then, Scott stiffened his left leg and took a few steps.

“If I pulled my hamstring I would walk like this,” he said. “I’ve pulled hamstrings before. This is just tight.”

“He’s fine,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said a few hours later before the Rays 5-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox at jetBlue Park. “There’s no real concern.”

Yet, given his history of hamstring issues, that Scott had to leave a game with a tight hamstring sustained while running out a fly ball has caught the Rays attention.

Also, Scott is coming off an injury plagued 2012 season that saw him head to the disabled list once with an oblique strain and again because of back stiffness. Both were not believed to be serious as the time Scott was injured.

“I’m not concerned yet,” Maddon said. “Tightness and a pull are two different things, so we’ll just wait and see.”

Scott will not play today in Fort Myers against the Minnesota Twins. Wednesday is an off day. It’s unlikely he will return Thursday because the Rays play the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton. So, it’s likely Scott won’t return until Friday when the Rays play the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.

“I have no idea,” Scott said when asked when he will return, “but it shouldn’t be long.”

This will create at-bats for a number of players who could fill the void in Scott’s absence, namely Jack Cust, Shelly Duncan and Leslie Anderson.

“The depth is there,” Maddon said.

Cust, an outfielder/designated hitter, served as the Rays designated hitter Monday. He walked in his first at-bat and lined a double off the right-center field wall in his second.

Cust, signed on the day position players reported to camp, is trying to regain the swing that enabled him to hit 26, 33 and 25 home runs from 2007 to 2009.

“Power has been there in batting practice a lot more so than the last couple of years,” Cust said. “Just constantly working on things, trying to bring that into the game. It’s harder to do with inconsistent at-bats, so you just have to not try and mess with stuff too much.”

Cust has three hits in 12 at-bats. He is hoping to show his versatility by playing the outfield later in camp.

“I’ve been doing my work in the outfield, taking balls off the bat and getting the work in,” Cust said. “They’re letting me get my legs under me, and hopefully later in the spring I’ll start working my way out there.”

Duncan played first base Monday and was 0-for-3. Like Cust, Duncan is in camp on a minor league contract. Duncan also has experience playing the corner spots in the outfield.

Like Scott, Cust is a left-handed hitter. Duncan bats right-handed.

Both can supply power.

Anderson, who played the past three seasons at Triple A Durham, can play first base and the corner spots in the outfield. He hits left hand. After a torrid start to the Grapefruit League season, Anderson has cooled off a bit.

Still, Maddon said he has been impressed with all three.

But, Maddon said he is not ready to search for options, because he doesn’t expect Scott’s current hamstring issue to be an on-going issue.

“We just got to wait a day or two and then get him back out there,” Maddon said. “It was such a cold day (Sunday), just tightened up a little bit, more than normal. That’s all that was.”


rmooney@tampatrib.com

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Twitter: @RMooneyTBO

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