Notes: Gomes returns to Rays

Notes: Gomes returns to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jonny Gomes looked a lot happier in returning to the clubhouse than he had leaving it just 17 days prior.

He may have been a little bit tired after a restless night and a 7 a.m. flight to rejoin the Rays from Triple-A Durham, but he definitely was glad to be back.

"Once I left [Tampa Bay], I was thinking about when I'd come back," said Gomes of his May 28 demotion to the Bulls. "But once I got there, I was just playing baseball every day and not worrying about it. I was just focused on stepping my game up. ... I think I did."

Gomes was the latest of the Rays' recent roster moves. He returned from Durham to fill B.J. Upton's spot on the roster. Upton, the second baseman, was placed on the disabled list Wednesday, retroactive to Saturday, with a strained left quadriceps.

In 13 games with the Bulls, Gomes hit .302 (13-for-43) with two doubles, a homer, seven RBIs and 11 walks.

Gomes also played every day, something he sorely missed while with the Rays, and he worked on his running, a part of his game he'd been striving to improve.

With Upton eligible to return June 24, Gomes knows his time to impress the Rays may be limited, and he said he's prepared to take advantage of the situation.

"It's a matter of high on the totem pole, low on the totem pole," Gomes said. "I just have to work my way up."

Gomes, Thursday's starting right fielder, proved his enthusiasm during the first play of the game by leaping high and crashing into the wall to rob Padres leadoff man Marcus Giles of a potential home run.

Dukes returns: Elijah Dukes was in the clubhouse Thursday following a day off in the aftermath of more reports regarding off-the-field issues. The starting center fielder wasn't in the lineup, but Rays manager Joe Maddon said Dukes was available to play.

"If we want to use him, we'll use him," Maddon said. "We'll see what we're going to do [Friday]. More than likely, Dukesy's going to be out there."

Here's the question: Where does starter James Shields' consecutive unbeaten starts streak this year rank on the Majors' all-time list?

Starting shuffle? Maddon still has made no determination as to whether Jason Hammel will replace incumbent Edwin Jackson in the rotation. Hammel made a strong push for the job Thursday with 6 2/3 solid innings in relief of Jackson, who lasted just one-third of an inning during his eighth loss of the year.

Jackson hasn't won a game since Sept. 26, 2005, while with the Dodgers, but Maddon has defended his young righty early and often. Maddon is convinced Jackson has all the tools to succeed at the Major League level, but it seems as though Jackson's time to prove himself this time around is running out.

"He's going to move beyond all this," Maddon said. "Right now, it's exaggerated a bit."

Maddon said a decision will be made as Jackson's next scheduled start approaches.

Rays bites: Tampa Bay seeks a series win Thursday. The team is 10-7 in the third game of a series this season, and 7-1 during its last eight such contests. ... If the Rays win Thursday, they will have won three straight series for the first time since August 2005. ... Prior to Wednesday's shutout loss, the Rays had scored a club-record 57 runs over their last seven games. ... Tampa Bay leads the Majors in come-from-behind wins with 20.

And the answer is: Shields has 13 straight unbeaten games to start the season, the 17th pitcher in the last 25 years to do so. The right-hander needs just four more games without a loss to take the lead from Jose Contreras and Dennis Martinez, who ran their streak to 16 with the White Sox and Indians, respectively.

In addition, Shields is the only pitcher in the group other than the Padres' Andy Hawkins to have exited each game with either a tie or the lead.

Up next: Tampa Bay will play 12 of its next 15 games on the road, starting with a three-game set at Colorado. Shields (6-0, 3.04 ERA) will get the ball in the 9:05 p.m. ET start on Friday. He'll face Rockies righty Rodrigo Lopez (2-0, 2.88 ERA).

Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.