Rays dealing with suspensions

Rays dealing with suspensions

ST. PETERSBURG -- The suspension status on several Rays players remains hazy, as manager Joe Maddon says the club will continue to evaluate the best options in dealing with the multiple suspensions doled out from the on-field melee with the Red Sox on June 5.

What is clear is that James Shields will come off his six-game suspension Wednesday and start Thursday's series finale against the Cubs, while Carl Crawford (four games) will be eligible to start Wednesday night's game. Outfielder Jonny Gomes served his five games immediately, and has been back since Friday.

When the final two Rays will begin serving their suspensions is still a lingering decision.

Edwin Jackson is set to appeal his five-game punishment, and Maddon said "it is a possibility" the right-hander would make his scheduled start on Saturday vs. Houston.

After that, Jackson could drop his appeal and serve his suspension, as the Rays' off-day on Monday would eliminate the need for a spot start in the rotation.

"Until he is suspended, he would make his next start," Maddon said, adding that the club does know not when Jackson's appeal date would be. "Right now, he is still slated for [Saturday's start]."

Jackson said he was preparing to start on Saturday, and if he does drop his appeal following the game, he wouldn't pitch again until June 28 in Pittsburgh.

Since league rules stipulate only one position being on suspension at a time, Crawford's return on Wednesday also signals the start of a three-game suspension for Akinori Iwamura.

On Wednesday, Iwamura said he was planning to appeal his suspension.

Maddon was unsure of his exact plans for the second baseman, noting: "Aki is still on the burner somewhere. Front or the back, just on the burner."

Maddon did confirm that, when the time comes, the club will use Willy Aybar in place of Iwamura.

Currently filling in at first base for injured Carlos Pena, Aybar says he spent an entire season at second base while with the L.A. Dodgers organization, and is comfortable sliding back into the role.

Shortstop Jason Bartlett is also expected to get a day off sometime in the near future, as his pregnant wife is close to her due date.

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