Activated from DL, Rays OF does aim to be more aware; club opts for Franklin's versatility over Motter
By Sam Blum
ST. PETERSBURG -- Going hard while diving for a ball in the outfield landed Steven Souza Jr. on the disabled list with a left hip strain. But the Rays' right fielder, who on Saturday was in the lineup for the first time since June 14, says he doesn't know if he plans on doing anything differently this time around.
"I don't think it's in my nature," Souza said. "I can't. I don't think I'd be able to look myself in the mirror when I go home at night and say, 'I did everything I can.'"
Souza went 1-for-3 in the Rays' 3-2 loss to the Tigers, his hit coming on a hustling infield single off Justin Verlander in the second. Souza also made the first play of the game, hauling in a fly ball from Ian Kinsler and getting a high-five from a fan for his efforts.
Souza did acknowledge that he probably should be cognizant of running into outfield walls, but he will plan to maintain his strong on-field presence that was sorely missed as the Rays lost 14 of 16 games without him. The Rays optioned Taylor Motter to Triple-A Durham to make room on the roster.
Souza played one rehab game on Friday with Class A Advanced Charlotte, and he went 0-for-3 with a walk and run scored. He said it was important to test out how he felt in the field, and he felt good to go.
"I would have never guessed my time would have been back like that," Souza said. "It's really only been a couple weeks. It's not like I've been out for two months. I'm very thankful that it just kind of came back real quick."
Motter pitched during the ninth inning of Friday's 10-2 loss to the Tigers before being optioned. The utility man played seven different positions for the Rays -- all but catcher and center field -- but was hitting just .188 with two home runs. Manager Kevin Cash said it came down to him and Nick Franklin, and the Rays kept Franklin, who has nine RBIs on this homestand.
"[Motter] did some good things for us," Cash said. "His versatility definitely helps. I think in fairness, Nick Franklin has also done some good things, and we want the way he's kind of taken to the outfield, we have an option with that. We like the switch-hit versatility also. That was kind of the deciding factor."
Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.