Rays manager Joe Maddon is hardly one to call out his players, almost always looking on the bright side and offering up public support when they fail. But he made it abundantly clear after Jeremy Hellickson's last start that he wasn't happy.
Hellickson wasted a four-run lead by walking the Padres' leadoff batter in the seventh and later allowing a game-tying, pinch-hit grand slam with two outs. The Rays went on to win the game thanks to some walk-off magic courtesy of Evan Longoria, but the young right-hander has struggled to pitch well with leads, as he's been given the lead in his past five starts and won only one of them.
He'll get another chance to redeem himself Friday, starting an American League East showdown with the Orioles at Camden Yards. But he heard Maddon's words on Saturday -- that the wasted leads were "inappropriate" and have "got to stop" because Tampa Bay would "rather be good than lucky."
"You can't go to the dance playing like that," Maddon said. "You get leads, you got to put the other team away."
Hellickson, for his part, understood that he can't continue pitching like that, and said he was "very disappointed" with himself. But he had been excellent for much of that game, at one point retiring 16 straight batters.
Hellickson will face Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel, who's also coming off a disappointing start. Hammel gave up six earned runs in four-plus innings last Friday, pushing his ERA to 4.93 through eight starts. Baltimore's Opening Day starter has been getting out of his delivery, according to manager Buck Showalter, and the pitcher admitted that, "I haven't been the Jason Hammel that I know I can be."
Hammel said this season has been "a grind from the get-go." He has recorded an out in the seventh inning only once this season, and he'd like that to change against the Tampa Bay club that drafted him.
"Obviously it's frustrating," Hammel said. "It's tough to keep going out there and really ... it's just all those battles. Just battle, battle, battle. Sooner or later it'll become easy, I've just got to keep putting in the hard work and trusting, and being confident in what I do."
Rays: Price goes on DL
• Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner David Price went on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a left triceps strain. However, the team is optimistic about the injury.
"We don't think it's going to be an extended period of time," Maddon said of his ace, who had an MRI on Wednesday night that revealed nothing unusual. "All the tests came back in a pretty good manner, so I think it's going to be a minimal time on the DL."
To take Price's spot on the active roster, the club recalled Alex Torres from Triple-A Durham. A decision on who will make Price's start Monday afternoon in Toronto has not yet been decided.
Orioles: Gonzalez could be nearing rehab start
• Miguel Gonzalez (blister) threw a 35-pitch side session Wednesday morning and felt fine physically. Pitching coach Rick Adair said his stuff was OK and that Gonzalez threw five or six pitches without the bandage on his right thumb.
Showalter and Adair were scheduled to meet about the next step for Gonzalez, which could be a short Minor League rehab start later this week or a simulated game Friday. The Orioles are hoping Gonzalez will be ready to start Monday or Tuesday, the first day they need a fifth starter.
• Jake Arrieta threw a bullpen session for Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday and didn't experience any right shoulder discomfort. Showalter wasn't sure whether Arrieta, who missed his scheduled start Sunday, would pitch for Norfolk this weekend.
• Rays first baseman James Loney is the Major Leagues' batting leader with a .367 average. Only two other Tampa Bay players have led the Majors in hitting this late in the season: Jason Bartlett in 2009 (.373 through June 6) and Matt Joyce in '11 (.364 through June 2).
• Hammel is 1-0 with a 3.72 ERA (9 2/3 innings, four earned runs) and one quality start in two career outings against his former team.