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Bartlett day-to-day with finger injury

Bartlett day-to-day with finger injury

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jason Bartlett was not in the Rays' starting lineup on Monday and is listed as day-to-day after getting hit in his right index finger with a pitch during Sunday's contest.

While manager Joe Maddon said he "wouldn't bet" on starting Bartlett on Tuesday, the club could use the speedy infielder to pinch-run.

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"They told me to run with my [injured] hand in my pocket," Bartlett said, as he showed the media his taped right finger.

With Sunday's X-ray coming back negative, Bartlett said the main concern was bringing down the swelling and draining some of the blood that had built up underneath the nail. He was scheduled to be re-evaluated by the team's medical staff sometime Monday.

Despite the minor setback, both Maddon and Bartlett were optimistic that the shortstop would avoid a stint on the disabled list and be back in a few days.

"It feels a lot better today, and hopefully it will [feel even better] tomorrow," Bartlett said.

Typically when Bartlett is unavailable for a day or two, the Rays have moved Evan Longoria over from third base to serve as the in-house backup. But on Monday, Maddon opted to leave Longoria at third, and instead give Willy Aybar his first Major League start at shortstop.

"Based on what's transpired this year, where [Longoria has] arrived at as a professional right now, it's in our best interests to leave him alone," Maddon said.

As for Aybar, Maddon noted that he had been working out at shortstop, and the real challenge on Monday would be to put Aybar in the right spot before the pitch is thrown.

"[We need to] get him as close to where the ball is going to be hit," Maddon said. "And roll from there."

Aybar has been a critical piece in keeping the Rays afloat during injury-stricken times. Prior to Monday's debut at shortstop, he had 17 starts at first base, three at second base and eight at third base.

The 25-year-old infielder said he played a few games at shortstop while at the Class A level and was confident he could handle Monday's move.

While Maddon acknowledged that the situation was "not optimal," the skipper hopes it can hold for the next few days.

"He's an infielder," Maddon said of Aybar, "He understands the game."

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

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