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Rays' Loney rehabs as DH in Class A

First baseman returns to the batter's box on Tuesday with Port Charlotte

ST. PETERSBURG -- First baseman James Loney, who has been sidelined since May 25 with a fractured left middle finger, continued his road back to the Rays' lineup Tuesday as he began a rehab assignment with Class A Port Charlotte.

Loney got the start at designated hitter and went 1-for-4 in the Stone Crabs' 12-2 loss to Clearwater.

"[The finger] is feeling good," Loney said. "That's what I was hoping for. I have it a little over five weeks now, and it's been good."

Loney said after Tuesday's game the goal is for him to return to the Rays over the weekend in New York, and according to what Rays manager Kevin Cash said prior to the their 6-2 loss to the Indians, that could be the case.

"We'll go with how he feels," Cash said. "He's a veteran guy. He knows himself better than anybody, so he's just got to get to full strength with his swing and his hand, and make sure it's not bothering him to make throws.

"Tonight will be a pretty good way to test [his finger] when he has to catch up to some velocity. It's tough to emulate that in a cage or with a machine or anything like that."

In 30 games for the Rays this season, Loney is batting .275 (30-for-109) with two home runs and 11 RBIs.

Designated hitter/outfielder John Jaso (left wrist contusion) and right-handed pitcher Andrew Bellatti (right shoulder tendinitis) joined Loney in Port Charlotte on Tuesday. Jaso played first base and went 0-for-3 while Bellatti tossed two innings of scoreless ball, allowing just two hits.

"Everything felt great," Bellatti said. "The first inning, I think I threw like six pitches, and they were all fastballs. So the second inning, I wanted to work in more offspeed. I wanted to throw strikes, first and foremost. Just get everything over for strikes and feel good health-wise, and I think everything that happened tonight was a good step forward."

Worth noting

Left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly (torn left labrum) threw his second light bullpen session Tuesday as he continues to attempt an August return to the Rays' rotation.

Troy Provost-Heron is an associate reporter for
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