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Rays notebook, 7/5

July 5, 2011

Brignac out of lineup, awaits better matchups

MINNEAPOLIS — For the third straight game, shortstop Reid Brignac was out of the Rays lineup Tuesday against the Twins.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said it had to do with matchups, and that Brignac could sit out again Wednesday at Target Field.

“Baker, 0-for-7 with five strikeouts,” Maddon said, referring to Brignac’s numbers against Twins right-hander Scott Baker. “Left-hander yesterday, left-hander tomorrow, [Kyle] Lohse was almost a reverse guy for him, it was a bad matchup for him. The cards have been bad for him.”

Brignac has struggled at the plate this season, batting just .187 with 41 strikeouts and only three extra-base hits.

Over his last 12 games, Brignac has been hitting better, though, posting a .250 batting average with a .351 on-base percentage. He’s had eight hits, three runs scored, five walks and an RBI over that stretch.

After opening the season as a guy Maddon expected to play everyday, Brignac is likely to sit out more frequently in the second half when the matchups are not in his favor. But Maddon did say Brignac should see more time against the Yankees due to good matchups and past success in the Bronx.

“We’re trying to get him back on solid ground where he’s feeling good about his offense,” Maddon said. “I really want to put him in situations where I think he has a better chance to be successful.”

Damon among impressive all-time legends

MINNEAPOLIS — With every hit, Johnny Damon seems to pass a baseball legend on the career hits list.

After going 1-for-4 in Monday’s game, Damon entered Tuesday’s game just one hit shy of tying Nellie Fox for 68th on the career hit list. Over the weekend, Damon passed Lave Cross, Harry Heilmann and Ted Williams.

Looking at the all-time doubles leaders, the names Damon is on the verge of passing are even more impressive. Damon is one double away from tying Andre Dawson for 50th on the all-time list, two behind Roberto Alomar and three back of Tony Perez.

With four doubles, Damon would tie Babe Ruth at 506 doubles for 47th all-time.

Count Rays manager Joe Maddon among those impressed by Damon’s accomplishments.

“Since he’s been here, I’ve been more aware of the all the things he’s about to accomplish,” Maddon said. “As an adversary, I didn’t know all that stuff in the past. All the names that keep popping up are really pretty impressive.”

Even at age 37 and after 17 seasons, Damon has been one of the Rays’ best hitters this season, entering Tuesday’s game hitting .283 with nine home runs and 41 RBIs.

“He’s going to keep going, he’s got a couple more years left in him, there’s no doubt in my mind,” Maddon said. “He keeps himself in great shape. But I think the way he approaches the day permits it to happen also.”

Maddon: All-Star chance good for Farnsworth

MINNEAPOLIS — Rays manager Joe Maddon reiterated Tuesday that he still thinks closer Kyle Farnsworth has a good chance to be added to the American League All-Star roster.

With a number of pitchers unable to pitch in the All-Star Game who will need to be replaced on the AL squad — including Rays starter James Shields — Farnsworth is among those who could be named as a replacement.

Maddon has not heard anything yet about whether Farnsworth will be added to the roster, but said that does not mean it cannot still happen. He noted that he did not hear about Rafael Soriano being named until it happened.

“I have gotten no calls whatsoever,” Maddon said. “I have to believe that they have guys in mind.”

Jordan Schelling 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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