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Injured Rays slowly returning; Cash won't panic

Souza, Smith and Kiermaier back in action, while others remain out
MLB.com @wwchastain

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The walking wounded have been getting back to work for the Rays.

Steven Souza Jr. (hip surgery) and Mallex Smith (left oblique) returned to action, which leaves Logan Morrison (left wrist surgery), shortstop Matt Duffy (left Achilles surgery) and left fielder Colby Rasmus (hip surgery and core muscle surgery) as the main players missing.

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The walking wounded have been getting back to work for the Rays.

Steven Souza Jr. (hip surgery) and Mallex Smith (left oblique) returned to action, which leaves Logan Morrison (left wrist surgery), shortstop Matt Duffy (left Achilles surgery) and left fielder Colby Rasmus (hip surgery and core muscle surgery) as the main players missing.

Rays manager Kevin Cash was asked when he would become concerned about players returning to the lineup.

"I was concerned before Spring Training even started," Cash said, "so that doesn't go away. But you trust the guys and you really trust the training staff -- as far as I'm concerned, they're as good as anybody in baseball. They're going to do whatever they can to get them on the field as soon as possible and have them ready for Opening Day."

Cash noted that it's only March 5, which means there's a lot of time until Opening Day.

"We can definitely ramp a guy up if it gets to the middle of March and they haven't played. It's still probably not time to panic or anything like that," Cash said.

Almost in the same breath, Cash added: "We want them on the field as quick as possible. ... The good thing is, nobody has had a setback to where they have missed more time than what was thought."

Worth noting

• Morrison is scheduled to play Wednesday night. Duffy has said all along that he expected to be back by the middle of March.

• After taking several days off due to a stiff neck, Kevin Kiermaier was back in the Rays' lineup in Sunday's 5-3 win over the Blue Jays.

• The Rays aren't sure what they're going to do with Jaime Schultz -- will he be a starter or reliever? He struck out the side in the eighth on Sunday. In three appearances this spring, he's allowed no runs on two hits and two walks while striking out nine in four innings.

Video: Top Prospects: Jaime Schultz, RHP, Rays

"The one thing we've kind of learned about him, he's pretty comfortable in any role," Cash said. "And we're probably going to find out more as we get deeper into Spring Training how comfortable he is."

Schultz said coming into the game in relief was "something I'm used to."

"I relieved a lot, closed a lot in college," Schultz said. "I got drafted as a reliever. My first four [professional games], I came in from the 'pen before I started piggy-backing. But it's something that doesn't feel new because I've done it in the past."

• Talk about up and down. The Rays defeated the Twins, 19-0, on Tuesday, setting club records for runs scored and margin of victory in a spring game. Their five home runs were their most in a spring game since March 22, 2010, at Boston (seven). On Thursday, the Rays took a 19-2 loss to the Red Sox in Fort Myers, giving them their worst spring loss in club history.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays