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Rays continue to ache, lose James Loney to DL

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And now, a word about your still-in-first-place Tampa Bay Rays:

Ouch.

In a season right out of M*A*S*H, the Rays were aching a little more Monday than they were 24 hours earlier. Three players joined the hobbled masses, most notably middle-of-the-order hitter James Loney, who went on the disabled list with a left middle finger fracture. He expects to be out for 4-6 weeks.

Also with day-to-day injuries are outfielder Steven Souza Jr. (left wrist sprain) and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (left groin strain).

It is the second trip to the disabled list for Loney, who missed 15 games earlier in the season with a right oblique strain. He had never been on the disabled list before this season.

The Rays were in first on Memorial Day for the fourth time in their history, joining 2008 (the year they made the World Series), 2010 and 2012. This is only the third time under the current divisional playoff system (established in 1994) that the AL East has had only one team above .500. Since 1969, only once has the AL East been led by a team with a lower winning percentage.

Still, first place is first. And mounting injuries cannot help.

“It’s disappointing,” said Loney, who was hitting .275 with two homers. “I knew yesterday it was probably broken.”

For the Rays, this is not new. Tampa Bay has sent 14 players to the disabled list this year for 16 stints, the most in the major leagues. No other team in the AL East has had more than 11.

The Rays recalled Tim Beckham and Jake Elmore because of the moves and optioned reliever Preston Guilmet.

“It’s unfortunate,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve dealt with it before. We’ll continue to deal with it.”

In Loney’s absence, infielder Logan Forsythe will become the regular first baseman. Catcher Rene Rivera, infielder Elmore and even Beckham will work at the position in case they are needed.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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