Pena out; Zobrist eyes Tuesday return

Pena out; Zobrist eyes Tuesday return

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays sluggers Ben Zobrist and Carlos Pena were feeling better than expected before Sunday's game, but both were not ready to play against the Yankees and doubtful for Monday night's game against the Twins.

Pena left Saturday night's 5-4 loss with soreness in his right foot, and Zobrist has been out since Wednesday with lower back stiffness. Rays manager Joe Maddon hoped to know for sure on Sunday morning if either would require a trip to the disabled list, but he said it would take until Monday afternoon to make the final decision.

"I thought today could have been a day that we said so-and-so's going to be on the DL or they're definitely not going to be on the DL, but we'll probably have to wait until tomorrow to really narrow that down," Maddon said. "We're going to have to play two guys short today. That's just the way it is. They're 'tweener injuries. There's no seven-day DL that permits you to really maneuver in these situations."

Zobrist said he felt "significantly better" on Sunday, and he was hoping to get back to swinging the bat on Monday and potentially be back in the lineup as early as Tuesday or as late as Thursday -- but almost definitely not on Monday. Zobrist has been testing his back in the trainer's room the past few days but didn't want to overdo it, avoiding the risk of irritating the injury.

"What we're hoping for is that tomorrow it feels well enough to take some hacks off the tee," Zobrist said on Sunday. "If it feels great, then it's possible that the next day, we could let it fly.

"I think we'll be clear in a few days if it keeps improving the same way."

On Saturday night, Pena underwent an MRI that showed inflammation but nothing more in the foot. Maddon did not know the extent of Pena's injury or how long it would keep him out of the lineup. Sean Rodriguez got the start at first base on Sunday afternoon after filling in at first Saturday night.

Playing without two of their everyday players -- and an extremely short bench of just two players -- has been difficult for the Rays, and watching from the bench has been equally rough for Pena and Zobrist.

"It's tough, but obviously, we've still played pretty well as a team," Zobrist said. "It would've been nice to pull off the one last night, but our guys have been hanging in there well. It's tough that Carlos went down last night, so that kind of just makes it all the more important for me to get back and be healthy."

-- Adam Berry