BOSTON -- The Rays have used six players at third base in Evan Longoria's absence, and Drew Sutton is starting to get a feel for the position.
Sutton made his third consecutive start at third base on Saturday night against the Red Sox.
"He's done a nice job," said manager Joe Maddon. "It's still going to be moved around, but he has done really well, quite a bit has been the throwing accuracy that's been impressive. I've been very pleased with what we've seen from him at third base."
Sutton was acquired from the Pirates for cash considerations on Monday when infielder Jeff Keppinger went on the 15-day disabled list (broken right big toe). In his first three games with the Rays entering Saturday, Sutton is 6-for-11 with two doubles and three RBIs.
He'll remain at third for now, but the Rays will also shift their infield around with versatile players like Sean Rodriguez and Elliot Johnson. Rodriguez has made 11 starts at third with Longoria (partially torn left hamstring) on the DL.
"You're going to still see Sean there on occasion, but for right now, there's no reason to mess with it. [Sutton] looks pretty darn good," Maddon said.
Infielder Will Rhymes sat for the second straight game on Saturday, but he will likely start at second base on Sunday afternoon in the series finale against the Sox. Rodriguez, who has started for Rhymes the last two games, could move to shortstop Sunday in favor of Johnson.
"Yeah, that's a possibility for tomorrow just to give Elliot a blow and get Rhymes back in," Maddon said.
Maddon thinks cooler heads will prevail vs. Sox
BOSTON -- Manager Joe Maddon didn't hide the fact that he believed Red Sox coaches were behind the benches-clearing scuffle in the ninth inning on Friday, which prompted Sox manager Bobby Valentine to respond on Saturday.
After Friday's 7-4 win in the series opener against the Sox, Maddon accused the Boston coaching staff of ordering reliever Franklin Morales to plunk Luke Scott, which led to a heated exchange between both clubs.
"By the way their players reacted to the entire situation, I knew it did not come from them," Maddon said Friday. "It's kind of incompetent behavior."
On Saturday, Valentine fired back.
"Wow, is that how they do it there," said Valentine, who is in his first year as Boston's manager. "When they throw at our guys, it comes from the coaches, you mean? Oh. I don't know. I don't know how things are done on their side and I don't think they know how things are done on our side. Whatever."
Maddon was aware of the comments when he met with the media prior to Saturday's game at Fenway Park, but he chose not to react to Valentine's statements.
"I think if you just rewind the tape everything is pretty much self explanatory," he said.
Instead, Maddon believed his reaction on Friday night prompted Valentine's response.
"I guess I did the same thing yesterday," Maddon said, "so I'm sure that what I said specifically may have motivated the return salvo."
Maddon doesn't plan on discussing the matter personally with Valentine and would prefer the players to smooth things out between the two teams.
"I'm sure players from both sides have all ready spoken to each other and know exactly what went on last night," he said. "I know the Red Sox players have a lot of respect for our guys and vice versa."
So will there be any carryover on Saturday night?
"No, I really don't [anticipate that]. We're here to play baseball. We don't come to instigate fights," Maddon said.
As for Saturday's game, Scott was back in the lineup after being hit in his right knee by a 97 mph-fastball in his last at-bat Friday. He received treatment on Saturday, heavily wrapped the knee and rode a stationary bike in the Rays' clubhouse before Maddon made the decision to start Scott as the designated hitter.
"I just wanted to make sure Luke's knee was OK, and he's fine to go," Maddon said.
Scott has good career numbers against Red Sox starter Josh Beckett, going 10-for-24 with three home runs and seven RBIs entering Saturday's game.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.