Rays rookie Hellickson misses chance to dog Jeter

Jeremy Hellickson says he’s never been able to tame his dog.

He’s talking about that scruffy Yorkshire Terrier of his. The

one named Jeter.

A persistent downpour Friday night prevented the Tampa Bay Rays’

rookie starter from getting the chance to deny Derek Jeter the two

hits he needs to reach 3,000. The second game of a four-game series

against the New York Yankees was rained out, bumping Hellickson

back in the rotation.

”I don’t really know if he knows his name because he never

listens to me,” Hellickson said of his dog, not Derek.

Hellickson grew up a Yankees fan in Iowa with his dad – Reggie

Jackson was his favorite player. The right-hander got the dog in

2005, the year Tampa Bay drafted him in the fourth round.

A baseball fanatic, he did the best he could in naming the

playful pup.

”I’m really not that good on dog names, I guess,” Hellickson

said. ”I just came up with it.”

It’s hard to blame him. By then, Jeter was already a four-time

World Series champion and captain of the Yankees.

Hellickson, a 24-year-old rookie, is 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA in two

relief appearances against the Yankees. Jeter is 1 for 2 against

him.

”It’s kind of funny that it happened,” Hellickson said of

lining up to face Jeter so close to the milestone. ”It’s not like

I expected this to happen when I gave him this name.”

Now, Hellickson will miss Jeter and all the other Yankees in

this series. The teams play 15 more times this season, though. Rays

ace David Price will face A.J. Burnett on Saturday, and James

Shields will go up against New York’s best, CC Sabathia, on Sunday,

the final game before the All-Star break.

Once Friday’s game was postponed, the Rays decided to skip

Hellickson.

The game will be made up Sept. 22. The rainout gives Jeter, with

2,998 career hits, just two games to reach the mark at Yankee

Stadium before the break. New York opens the second half with an

eight-game road trip.

The Rays could have agreed to play a split doubleheader

Saturday, but voted for the later makeup date.

”I don’t think there’s really a win,” third baseman Evan

Longoria said. ”The initial thought was they wanted to play a

doubleheader tomorrow. I think we all know why they’d like to get

these three games in and obviously they’re rooting for Derek to get

his 3,000th hit here in this series, I mean, we’d like to see him

do it, too. And he’s got two more days to do it.”

But the teams had a two-game series scheduled for Sept. 20-21 in

New York bookended by two off days, and manager Joe Maddon said

putting off the makeup game would suit the Rays better.

”Where we are right now, if I had my druthers about it, we

would probably choose later,” Maddon said before the decision was

made. ”At this point in the first half, guys are run down. … I

like the idea you have expanded rosters in September.”

Despite posting a lineup Friday that did not include Alex

Rodriguez and Nick Swisher because of injuries, Yankees manager Joe

Girardi wanted to play for all the people who wanted a shot at

seeing Jeter’s big hit.

”Whether I’m frustrated or not, it doesn’t matter,” Girardi

said. ”It was important to us, it was important to our fans.”

Maddon wasn’t swayed by the absence of Rodriguez because of an

aching knee and Swisher with a sore left quadriceps.

”Two games right now is not appealing,” Maddon said.

One of Maddon’s stars who could use the rest is Johnny Damon. He

sat out Thursday night’s 5-1 victory after being hit on the left

hand by a pitch from the Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano the

previous day. Damon might be able to play Saturday.

”It’s still kind of a weakness about it because it was

swollen,” Maddon said.

Price and Shields were not averse to playing catch in the

outfield while lightning lit up the sky overhead and rain fell

steadily.

”I wasn’t worried. We wanted to get our throwing in,” Shields

said. ”Besides, we’re from Florida and used to it.”

The Rays play in a domed stadium.

NOTES: Maddon, Price, reliever J.P. Howell and reserve infielder

Elliot Johnson were fined by Major League Baseball for their

actions in a loss to St. Louis last week. All four were ejected in

a wild eighth inning for arguing balls and strikes. … The Rays

are 28-18 on the road, best in the majors. They are 21-21 at home.

… The Rays signed 16-year-old right-hander Abrahan Rodriguez of

Valencia, Venezuela.