The Rays' brain trust got one last look Sunday at some pitchers whose postseason roles are yet to be determined.
By using Edwin Jackson and David Price in relief and giving Troy Percival another shot to demonstrate he's healthy enough to be effective, the Rays have accumulated about all the information they can at this point. Manager Joe Maddon, the coaches and the baseball operations staff will sit down today to lay out most of the plans for the Division Series, though they don't have to finalize the roster until Thursday morning.
The most significant development Sunday likely was Percival's performance. The veteran dispatched the Tigers in order in the seventh inning, needing only 10 pitches to do so. He said his back felt fine and his control had improved since Thursday, his first appearance following a second round of epidural injections in his back.
"My only question was about health," Maddon said of Percival's chances to make the ALDS roster. "I want to know how he feels, and when I speak with him, that's it - health. If he's healthy, we're better with him."
In Percival's mind, that question has been answered.
"But at this point I don't need to put any more pressure on them than they've already got," Percival said. "They've got a decision to make and I did what I had to do. Since my first epidural shot, I've pitched effectively - I think more effectively as time has gone by."
His status could determine whether or not the Rays carry Price for the first round. The rookie looked fine in his 12/3 innings of relief Sunday, though Maddon said his fastball command left something to be desired.
Price has truncated his warm-up routine in an effort to make it more suitable to relief work and said he had no problems Sunday. Plus, he rather enjoyed coming on to relieve Mitch Talbot with the bases loaded and one out and retiring the next two hitters without allowing a run.
"It's awesome," Price said. "That situation I came in today, that's fun."
As for Jackson, his first relief outing since July 8, 2007, may have been a preview of his first-round role. The Rays haven't said whether he or Andy Sonnanstine will serve as the fourth starter for the Division Series, and Maddon was "curious" to see how Jackson responded coming out of the bullpen.
GAME ON: While the rest of the Rays enjoy a day away from the field, Carl Crawford will eagerly take part in a game today.
The outfielder will play in an instructional league contest against the Pirates this afternoon at the Naimoli Complex, getting several at-bats and playing defense as he continues to make his case for a spot on the ALDS roster. He expects to see action in the instructional league Tuesday, as well, and may even play Wednesday so he can see as much live pitching as possible in the coming days.
"I've got to get back up to game speed," Crawford said. "I'm just going to go over there and see where I'm at - that'll really let me know. Right now, I can't tell."
Crawford said he felt fine after taking batting practice on the field once again Sunday, and he'll continue to do all he can to talk the Rays' brain trust into including him on the postseason roster.
"No matter what happens these next few days, I'm still going to try to convince them to let me play," he said.
TAKING THEIR TIME: Not knowing which team will provide the opposition for the first round won't alter the Rays' plans in any meaningful way, Maddon said.
However it turns out, the Rays will be well-prepared in terms of advance scouting. They have had two to three scouts watching each game played by the Twins and White Sox (and the Angels and Red Sox) for the past two or three weeks. In addition to traditional scouting, the Rays have also compiled video and data reports on each possible opponent.
Rather than handing out information on both Minnesota and Chicago, the Rays will wait until the matchup is determined before convening a scouting meeting - possibly as late as Wednesday, depending on what happens.
NOTEWORTHY: Fans who were informed Sunday that they were chosen in the lottery for the chance to buy tickets to the third ALDS game at Tropicana Field can buy tickets today. Any that remain will go on sale to the public at 9 a.m. Tuesday. ... SS Jason Bartlett remains a bit under the weather and did not play Sunday but the Rays expect him to be fine by Thursday. ... C John Jaso made his first big-league start.