Jackson drops appeal, starts suspension

Jackson drops appeal, starts suspension

ST. PETERSBURG -- As expected, Edwin Jackson dropped his appeal and will start serving a five-game suspension on Sunday.

The right-hander was one of five Rays who were doled out various punishments for their involvement in an on-field melee with the Red Sox on June 5.

Jackson's suspension was originally slated to begin on Thursday after James Shields came off his six-game punishment, but the Rays decided to submit an appeal in order to avoid a spot start in their rotation.

Jackson last pitched Saturday night, earning a no-decision in 6 1/3 innings against the Astros. With Monday's off-day, Scott Kazmir will pick up Jackson's next scheduled start in Pittsburgh on Friday, with Jackson throwing the second game at PNC Park.

Despite a total of 23 games doled out via suspensions, the Rays have managed to effectively juggle their roster to minimize the damage.

Jonny Gomes served his five-game punishment immediately (returning on June 11) and was followed by a four-game suspension for Carl Crawford.

Meanwhile, Shields -- who also originally appealed his sentence only to drop it following his June 10 start -- returned to the mound in the Cubs' series finale on June 19.

The lone player who has yet to sit out has been Akinori Iwamura. The Rays second baseman is appealing his three-game punishment mainly because of the club's concern over the middle infield. With Jason Bartlett's pregnant wife, Kelly, due to give birth within the next few days, the Rays don't want to face a scenario where they are missing their starting shortstop and second baseman.

The Bartletts plan on inducing labor if the baby isn't delivered by Wednesday, and it is likely Iwamura will drop his appeal and serve his suspension following Bartlett's return. Manager Joe Maddon has reiterated that Bartlett will be out for two games during the family matter.

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