ST. PETERSBURG -- Manager Joe Maddon is having his team start the next road trip in style.
As part of a theme travel day to Toronto for the Rays' three-game series against the Blue Jays from Monday to June 2, Maddon asked all his players to wear hockey jerseys. He had a simple answer when asked why.
"We're going to Canada -- Stanley Cup week," said Maddon, referring to the fact that the Stanley Cup Final between Philadelphia and Chicago start Saturday. "[It's] the national pastime of the great country of Canada."
Maddon, who said he will be wearing a St. Louis Blues jersey, noted that he had no preference as to who wins the championship.
Maddon has instituted similar dress codes in the past as a way of lightening the mood, such as a "white-out" to Miami, a "western" trip to Colorado and even a Johnny Cash-themed trip. He is working on other options for the rest of the season, including another "white-out" when the team plays the Marlins in Miami on June 18-20.
Maddon also joked about trying to purchase team blazers -- "something with plaid" -- for a future trip, although he didn't quite realize the potential cost of doing so.
"I thought you could just Google 'cool plaid team blazers' and get one," a laughing Maddon said. "But you can't."
Sonnanstine has bounce-back performance
ST. PETERSBURG -- There wasn't a lot to be happy about in the Rays' 6-1 loss to the Red Sox on Monday night, but Andy Sonnanstine's work out of the bullpen provided a small silver lining in an otherwise disappointing outing.
The converted reliever pitched three scoreless innings, gave up only two hits and struck out four batters while walking none. It was Sonnanstine's first appearance since he gave up four runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Yankees on Wednesday. The game was already out of reach when the right-hander took over for Lance Cormier, but his bounce-back performance was encouraging to Rays manager Joe Maddon.
"He was real frisky and fresh yesterday. He had really good stuff," Maddon said. "He had a real sharp breaking ball, and having had the appropriate rest, I think that was helpful."
Maddon attributed the ninth-inning collapse in New York to the game being Sonnanstine's third in a row -- an unusual task for a pitcher who is still adjusting to his role in the bullpen after three years as a starter for Tampa Bay.
"He'd never done that before," Maddon said. "There's an emotional aspect of pitching also. He had pitched three days in a row. I know it was not a high-leverage situation, but I think it had something to do with that third day."
Despite that, Maddon said he won't avoid pitching Sonnanstine multiple nights in a row in the future, but he will more carefully evaluate the situations in which he sends the right-hander to the mound. Maddon went on to praise Sonnanstine's work ethic, and he told his pitcher that the off night was just an "anomaly."
"I'm not at all afraid to bring him into a game," said Maddon. "This guy, a couple years ago, was pitching some meaningful games in September against the Yankees and the Red Sox, and pitched very well. He's not nervous when he goes out there."
Shoppach preparing for rehab assignment
ST. PETERSBURG -- Kelly Shoppach made another step toward beginning his rehab assignment Tuesday, throwing and running the bases in Tropicana Field before the Rays took on the Red Sox.
Shoppach, who went on the 15-day disabled list on April 13 with a right knee sprain, is scheduled to begin his rehab assignment with the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs this weekend or Monday, manager Joe Maddon said. Before traveling to Port Charlotte, Fla., the catcher will need to hit on the field, work on catching and practice sliding.
"I know that Kelly is pushing to move it up a little bit, but I've got to get with the trainers and see specifically what they want to get," Maddon said.
Meanwhile, Maddon said there has been discussion of moving Matt Joyce up to Double-A Montgomery soon. Joyce, a candidate for the starting right-field job before the season began, started in the outfield Monday night for the first time during his rehab assignment.
Joyce, on the disabled list since April 1 with a right elbow strain, has hit well and drew three walks in Monday night's game for Charlotte, an encouraging sign for Maddon.
"Everything has been fine. There's been no setbacks," Maddon said. "[He's been] taking good at-bats. ... He's another guy who can work a good at-bat."
Carlos Pena, who has batted fourth or fifth in 42 of his 44 appearances, was slotted sixth in the lineup Tuesday night, and manager Joe Maddon said he will probably stay down in the lineup until "he gets going again." Pena entered the game hitting .191 on the year and will likely be replaced in his usual fifth spot by catcher John Jaso and designated hitter Willy Aybar, depending on the pitcher the Rays are facing. ... Maddon said the DH rotation will also depend on the matchup, as Hank Blalock will go up against right-handers and Aybar will face lefties. There will be a few exceptions, as Blalock will occasionally face left-handers who cut the ball in against righties. ... Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson carried a perfect game into the seventh inning and a no-hitter into the eighth Monday night before allowing a walk and a hit, respectively, in Triple-A Durham's 1-0 win against the Pawtucket Red Sox. It is the second time in his career with the Bulls that he has one-hit an opponent through eight innings. ... Shortstop Tim Beckham, the top overall pick of the 2008 Draft, went 2-for-4 with a double Monday night in Class A Charlotte's 4-3 loss to Palm Beach, giving him 13 hits in the past six games.
Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.