ST. PETERSBURG -- Dioner Navarro was out of Thursday night's starting lineup for the second consecutive game and the Rays are shooting for Saturday for his expected return.
The Rays starting catcher 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 both of his legs came back clean.
Prior to Thursday's game, Navarro reported to be feeling better, saying he was "not as sore" as he was the previous day and had been receiving plenty of treatment.
Both manager Joe Maddon and Navarro agreed the 24-year-old switch-hitter could be used if necessary in Thursday's game, although Navarro wouldn't be full strength.
"My game would be limited as far as running and stuff," Navarro said.
Maddon agreed the Rays' current plan is to get Navarro a start for Saturday's game against Baltimore, and the Rays would continue to use backup Shawn Riggans in his place.
Also due back on Saturday is closer Troy Percival, who threw off the mound to several Rays hitters on Thursday afternoon.
Afterwards, Percival said everything felt really good and Maddon was impressed with the right-hander's velocity and ease of delivery.
"I thought he looked pretty good," Maddon said. "We will evaluate afterwards. We got the date [he is eligible for activation] coming up in a couple days. So, looks like he's going to be ready."
Percival has been sidelined since Aug. 15 with right knee cartilage damage and although he is eligible to come off the shelf Aug. 30, the Rays may choose to avoid a roster move. With rosters expanding on Sept. 1, Maddon was unsure whether the club would activate Percival immediately or just wait the extra two days.
The Rays are also awaited the much-anticipated activation of Evan Longoria (fractured right wrist), who is shooting to return on Sept. 1 for the start of the following day's Yankees series.
Longoria played catch with head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield on Thursday afternoon and was scheduled to take swings with a broomstick, which Maddon said was another level in the third baseman's recovery. Longoria used a Wiffle bat to swing on Wednesday.
"He's moving up the weight class," Maddon said. "So far, so good."
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.