WASHINGTON -- A lingering back problem kept Matt Joyce from the starting lineup again on Thursday.
Joyce has not played since Tuesday, when he left the game in the bottom of the fifth with tightness in the left side of his back.
"It's kind of in a tricky spot; you rotate and feel it," Joyce said. "[It's] just one of those things where you don't want to swing hard and be back to square one."
Andrew Friedman, the Rays' executive vice president of baseball operations, addressed the prospect of Joyce going on the disabled list.
"Can't say no, can't say yes yet," Friedman said. "With Matt we're going to keep playing it out and see how he responds and if he gets significantly better every day. It hasn't happened to date. We'll definitely take it into tomorrow and see how he feels, and then make a decision from there."
Rays expect to have Keppinger back on Friday
WASHINGTON -- Infielder Jeff Keppinger should be back with the Rays in Philadelphia on Friday.
Keppinger went on the 15-day disabled list with a broken big toe on his right foot on May 21. He went 3-for-4 with a double as the designated hitter in Triple-A Durham's 14-8 win over Rochester on Thursday.
Keppinger's return should give the offense a boost, as he was hitting .295 in 29 games, with two home runs and eight RBIs.
Scott feels good after batting practice
WASHINGTON -- Luke Scott took batting practice on Thursday, facing hitting coach Derek Shelton.
Scott obviously felt good and even teased that he hit the ball so hard against Shelton that the noise was deafening.
The plan calls for Scott to be activated from the disabled list when the team arrives in Kansas City on Monday to start a three-game series with the Royals.
"I'll be ready physically," Scott said.
The slugger said that he now needs to ratchet up his hitting program by working against a pitching machine and facing higher speeds than those reached by Shelton.
"Something that can simulate 90, 95 [mph]," he said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.