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Wheeler available if needed in Game 3

Wheeler available, but not 100 percent

BOSTON -- Rays reliever Dan Wheeler is expected to be available for Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Monday after his 3 1/3 innings of relief on Saturday. How long he'll be available to pitch is uncertain.

Pitching coach Jim Hickey said during pregame batting practice that Wheeler could pitch, but he cautioned that Wheeler wasn't 100 percent following his longest outing in terms of innings since 2004 and in terms of pitches since '06.

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Wheeler's Game 2 relief extended the contest long enough for B.J. Upton to drive in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the 11th inning. Wheeler threw 48 pitches and faced 12 batters from the time he entered with no one out in the eighth until leaving for rookie David Price with one out in the 11th.

"That's a lot of pitches in a lot of innings for that," manager Joe Maddon said earlier Monday, "although he had plenty of rest coming into that. It's something he has not done. So you always have to look at the fact that it's unusual for him to do those kind of things.

"Primarily, my personal history, when [relievers] throw 30- or 40-plus pitches, you normally like to give them two days off as opposed to one."

Wheeler is expected to be the only pitcher facing that dilemma. Though Tampa Bay and Boston combined to use six relievers Saturday night and into Sunday morning, Wheeler had by far the longest outing.

Normally, Wheeler is a late-inning presence in some form for a Rays bullpen that doesn't have a set order, though he leads the team in saves since the All-Star break. Tampa Bay has enough bullpen depth, however, to get through the later innings without him if need be.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["league_championship_series" ] }
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