The Devil Rays offense should get a shot in the arm tonight when two of the teams regulars return to the starting lineup. At some point Joe Maddon is going to have to make some decisions regarding playing time and at bats, but not yet. Julio Lugo will slide right back into his usual shortstop position. Lugo’s return will bump Tomas Perez to the bench. Perez has been steady with the glove but he is only hitting .190/.229/.304. More importantly Lugo will be back to his custom spot at the top of the batting order. Maddon has used Carl Crawford and Joey Gathright as leadoff hitters in Lugo’s absence. While Gathright may develop into a strong leadoff hitter, he is not there yet. Crawford is a good leadoff hitter, but he is such a good hitter that he is more valuable in the #2 or #3 spots in the lineup. Aubrey Huff also returns to the lineup tonight. His return will move Sean Burroughs back to the bench. In 7 games since returning from the DL himself, Burroughs has batted .190/.320/.238. Huff and Lugo will instantly upgrade the offense. Where Maddon will have a decision to make is when Jorge Cantu returns and to a lesser degree when Rocco Baldelli returns. Ty Wiggington shifted to second base when Cantu went on the DL. Wiggington has been hitting the ball too well to be sitting on the bench everyday. One option is to shift Huff over to first base, move Wiggington back to third base and sit Travis Lee. This is not very likely as Lee has been outstanding with the glove and regularly saves the other infielders from errors. In fact, members of the Devil Rays public relations department put the unofficial total of “saves” for Lee at 13. When Baldelli returns, he will return to center field, which means Gathright goes to the bench. Gathright does not necessarily warrant a position as an everyday starter, but Maddon will be hard-pressed to get some at bats for him as he causes havoc when he gets on base. The most likely scenario has Wiggington filling in at various positions to give guys a day off. He probably won’t start everyday but we would not be surprised if he starts 4-5 games a week. As for Baldelli…The team is going to be very cautious with him and we expect to see him taking a lot of days off the first month or two after he returns.

 
 

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