Navarro misses start against Jays

Navarro misses start against Jays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Dioner Navarro was out of Wednesday night's starting lineup, but Rays manager Joe Maddon said the backstop was available off the bench if necessary.

The club's starting catcher, Navarro left Tuesday night's game in the bottom of the sixth inning with cramping in both hamstrings. Fortunately, the already injury-plagued Rays caught a break when an MRI on his legs came back clean.

Maddon said the cramping started during Navarro's at-bat in the fifth inning on Tuesday and after assuming the field for the top of the sixth inning, his legs were still sore. In Navarro's place the Rays inserted Shawn Riggans, and the 28-year-old rookie also assumed starting duties for Wednesday's game.

Although Maddon said he wanted to "back up" by giving Navarro some rest, the skipper didn't rule out using the switch-hitting Navarro if necessary during Wednesday's contest against the Blue Jays.

"If something were to happen or we wanted to do something, he could catch today," Maddon said.

One of the Rays' three All-Stars this season, Navarro is having a career year batting .290 with six homers and 43 RBIs. Any long-term injuries to the 23-year-old would severely cripple the Rays as the backup to Riggans is utility man Ben Zobrist.

Although Maddon has strived to give Navarro consecutive days of rest, benching him for games prior to a scheduled off-day, the skipper said he would continue to be vigilant.

"We do need to pay attention to all that stuff," Maddon said, adding that he has recently upped his efforts to rest Navarro. "[But] I don't know if necessarily that is why [the cramping] happened."

Tuesday's incident made it even more likely that the Rays will call up a third catcher, such as Mike DiFelice or John Jaso, when rosters expand on Sept. 1.

"You can always piece it together at other positions," Maddon said. "But it's hard to piece it together behind the plate. So, I'd rather have an extra guy there for that."

In other injury related news, Evan Longoria took dry swings off the tee on Wednesday for the first time since suffering a right wrist fracture on Aug. 8. Longoria has been cleared for baseball activities and the Rays are hoping the rookie can continue to progress in time for a Sept. 1 return.

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