Injuries continue to sting Rays

Updated: August 15, 2008, 12:28 PM ET
Troy Percival's instinct will always be to return to the mound and throw another pitch, but as he did that late Thursday afternoon in Oakland, he staggered slightly, and you could see that he had a problem. Percival had sprained his knee rushing to cover a ground ball hit up the first base line, and he will be re-examined Friday in Dallas.

So as the Tampa Bay Rays barrel into the last 45 days of the regular season, their closer will likely be Grant Balfour, a pitcher with four career saves, a pitcher who could have been claimed for $50,000 by any other team as he passed through waivers at the end of spring training. Maybe this is apropos for the Rays, a team with a payroll that is less than the combined salaries of the left side of the Yankees' infield.

With all due respect to Hank Steinbrenner, the Rays had more injuries than any AL East team in the first six weeks of the regular season, and more recently, they've lost Carl Crawford for the season and Evan Longoria for at least a couple of more weeks. Going forward, they will have to rely on Rocco Baldelli, who is at the outset of a remarkable comeback from a mitochondrial disorder, and veteran slugger Cliff Floyd, who has battled nagging injuries throughout his career. Because of their standing at the top of the AL East, it is all but impossible for them to get a player who is performing well in 2008 through the waiver process; the Red Sox and Yankees are poised to block.