Return of Jeremy Hellickson a Positive As Rays Battle Minor Injuries

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Our weekly look at one item tying together each of the Red Sox' AL East rivals examines the Rays, who are looking forward to an approaching day off to give some players a rest.

None of the injuries in Tampa Bay's camp have been serious, but manager Joe Maddon said he is eyeing March 15, the day after an off-day in the schedule, as one where he hopes that a series of bumps and bruises will finally be overcome.

There are signs that the skies have already brightened a bit. Shortstop Reid Brignac has been able to shake off a right groin issue (he made two outstanding plays against the Red Sox on Thursday), Ben Zobrist returned earlier this week from a right ankle problem and top pitching prospect Jeremy Hellickson finally got his feet wet Friday.

Hellickson, who was bothered by a right hamstring strain, made his debut with a scoreless inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team's likely fifth starter, Hellickson will pitch again Tuesday and is hopeful he can get in enough innings during spring training to break camp with the club.

While each returning player is a great sign for the team's overall health, Maddon still wants to use that day off as a chance to re-energize.

"I'm hoping that post off-day we'll have everybody kind of well and we can really start getting our game together with the new additions and really galvanizing all of our beliefs among the group and see if we can take it into the beginning of the season," Maddon told MLB.com earlier this week.

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