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Notes: Maddon believes Wilkerson

Notes: Maddon believes Wilkerson

ST. PETERSBURG -- In the aftermath of both benches emptying in Friday night's Devil Rays game against the Reds, Rays manager Joe Maddon said he still felt like Reds Minor Leaguer Wes Wilkerson wasn't intentionally throwing at Shawn Riggans -- which ignited the ill will.

However, Maddon said he did like the way his club responded to Wilkerson's tight pitch that followed a home run by Jonny Gomes. Maddon went onto the field to help curb the incident.

"I really felt it was important that I got out front and said, 'Hey, this is what I've got on this one,'" Maddon said. "And I think it speaks to the schedule, and how the schedule is with the night games and all that other kind of stuff, where you've got to pull people from your Minor League situation to participate in these games -- that's exactly what happened last night."

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No Julio: Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo did not make the trip to St. Petersburg on Saturday, thereby avoiding the potential batter-pitcher confrontation against his brother, Rays right-hander Ruddy Lugo.

"I'm disappointed -- yeah, very disappointed," Ruddy said. "I was looking forward to it."

Ruddy's infectious grin spread across his face.

"I don't know, I guess he didn't want to make the trip," Ruddy said. "But I was looking forward to facing him. I guess he's dodging me."

Ruddy pitched two innings Saturday and did not give up a run.

Ortiz shift: Before Saturday's game, one of the writers covering the Red Sox asked Maddon about how he planned to defense David Ortiz in 2007 after the Rays manager employed a radical shift against him in '06.

"We don't play you guys for a long time," said Maddon, referring to the fact the Rays don't play a regular-season game against the Red Sox until July. "So there's going to be an appropriate amount of data built up by then to make the appropriate decision. I think in the first part of last year we probably impacted Dave a little bit. I think the last part of it did not.

"So outside of just putting up temporary fences a little higher when he comes to [Tropicana Field], I don't know what else we might do. I've already thought about that before really trying to do anything, because we play the Red Sox at the beginning of the year. So just let the data build up, then look at it. ... I'm sure by then, he'll be able to perfect his bunting techniques -- just waiting to see how he reacts. But I thought, pretty much by the end of last season, he beat it."

Ortiz hit .304 with eight home runs and 21 RBIs against the Rays in 2006.

"He wears the entire baseball world out as much as anybody," Maddon said. "Who has a better propensity to hit in the clutch than he does? I've never seen that going back to Little League days. Anybody who can wear out a league like he can and handle it as well as he can, I'm a big fan. He's a different animal the way he's able to rise to the occasion."

Injury updates: Carl Crawford joined the wounded Friday night, when he complained of tightness in his left groin. On Saturday morning, the Rays' left fielder felt much improved.

"It's great, actually," Crawford said. "[Maddon] gave me the day off -- just needed a little rest."

Meanwhile, catcher Dioner Navarro, who has battled a strained left hamstring, caught five innings Saturday; outfielder Rocco Baldelli (right hamstring tightness) felt better as did catcher Josh Paul (bruised right hand).

Maddon said he expected Baldelli and Crawford to be back in the lineup as early as Monday.

Up next: The Rays will travel to Bradenton on Sunday for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest against the Pirates at McKechnie Field. Right-hander Jae Seo will start for the Rays, and he will be followed by right-handers Brian Stokes and Seth McClung. Of interest is the fact both Stokes and McClung are contending to win spots in the Rays' bullpen. Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny will start for the Pirates.

Bill Chastain 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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