OAKLAND -- The Rays opened Wednesday's 7-2 loss with a new batting order, and manager Kevin Cash says it'll be the club's preferred lineup going forward, health permitting.Before the game against the A's at the Coliseum, Cash said the Rays will use the same top five in the lineup for
OAKLAND -- The Rays opened Wednesday's 7-2 loss with a new batting order, and manager Kevin Cash says it'll be the club's preferred lineup going forward, health permitting.
Before the game against the A's at the Coliseum, Cash said the Rays will use the same top five in the lineup for the majority of games: Steven Souza Jr., Corey Dickerson, Evan Longoria, Logan Morrison and Wilson Ramos.
"We'll see how it goes, but for the time being, we're going to keep that top five together," Cash said. "That could change, depending on if Wilson has an off-day or something, and we might drop Souza back to protect LoMo. But I like the way it goes and like the right-left, which makes it a little more difficult late in ballgames."
Souza has been in the leadoff spot against left-handed pitching for the majority of the season, but while Cash had been planning on sticking with him in the leadoff spot going forward, Souza left Wednesday's game with a left hip strain and is day to day. Cash made the switch in part because of outfielder Mallex Smith's struggles.
"Mallex has done a tremendous job for us, and as any young player, he came in and was hot. And I think the league has made adjustments on Mallex," Cash said. "Now, it's his turn to make some adjustments on the league. Souza and Corey have been a really solid 1-2 punch up there, and we're going to ride that out."
Cash is within reason for wanting to do so, with the All-Star Dickerson batting .310 with 17 homers and 42 RBIs and Souza hitting his 20th homer on Tuesday night. For Souza, the lineup as currently constructed is something the Rays haven't had in a while.
"Our lineup is very deep -- as long as I've been here, we haven't had a lineup like this," Souza said. "Our pitching has always been extremely good, but we haven't been able to put up the run support. To have the lineup that we have now, it's more the mentality of 'Pass the baton.' Everybody just do their job and get on instead of trying to do too much. You're seeing big things happen out of everyone."
Cash added, "It leaves a pretty good feeling when you're in every ballgame and the fact that everyone's contributing. From one through nine in our lineup on any given night, someone seems to step up and get a big hit for us."
• Infielder Rickie Weeks Jr. (right shoulder impingement) is playing in his first game on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham on Wednesday.
• Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (Tommy John surgery) had his first bullpen session of 2017 on Tuesday, throwing 20 pitches.
• Right-hander Diego Moreno (right shoulder bursitis) threw a live bullpen session Tuesday and is expected to throw another one Saturday.
Alex Simon is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @alexsimon99.