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HOUSTON – Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier made his impact felt defensively in his return from the disabled list on Tuesday. There will be changes in playing time moving forward as well.

With Kiermaier Raekwon McMillan Jersey , who missed 57 games with a torn ligament in his right thumb, back in the fold, Mallex Smith shifted to left field while Johnny Field claimed a reserve role. While Smith appears a likely bet to maintain regular at-bats, Field could see a decline in his. Field could potentially share time in right field with veteran Carlos Gomez, whose defense played a part in the Rays’ 2-1 victory Tuesday that ended Houston’s 12-game winning streak and set the stage for the rubber match of this three-game series on Wednesday night.

“Mallex is going to play a lot,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s done a good job; I think he’s deserving to play. He’s probably back in the spot that benefits us the most in left or right when he goes over there at certain times. I like that he can rove to all three of (the outfield slots) and back up K.K. in center. But now it’s like the infield thing: I’m just going to have to do a good job of making sure that everybody gets some consistency and also rest at the same time.

“I don’t think it’s going to hurt Carlos Gomez to get an extra day here and there. Same with Johnny. You see with really good teams that have a full roster the ability to rest their so-called regulars. So, we’ll take that approach.”

The Rays designated outfielder Rob Refsnyder for assignment to make room for Kiermaier.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (1-2, 4.63 ERA) will start the series finale for the Rays (34-39). He is 1-0 with a 2.52 ERA over four career starts against Houston but hasn’t faced them since April 7, 2016, while pitching for the Yankees.

Eovaldi has faced the Astros once in Houston, earning a 3-2 win on June 26, 2015, after allowing two runs on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts over six innings.

Wednesday will mark his fifth start since returning from a second Tommy John surgery.

The Astros (49-26) will counter with right-hander Charlie Morton (8-1, 2.94 ERA), who is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA over three career starts against the Rays. Morton went 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts against the Rays last season Patrick Kerney Jersey , allowing seven runs on 10 hits and five walks over 11 innings.

He picked up the win in his last start, the 200th of his career, limiting the Royals to three runs on four hits and four walks with nine strikeouts over six innings in a 7-3 victory on June 15.

Major League Baseball released the second update of the American League All-Star voting results on Tuesday, and Astros second baseman Jose Altuve leads all players in fan balloting with 1,572,101 votes. Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts is just behind Altuve at 1,568,417.

“I think it’s remarkable, and I think it’s well deserved for someone who represents our game in exceptional fashion,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who will manage the AL All-Stars in Washington, D.C., next month. “I think the voters are getting it right. He’s every bit what’s right about baseball. I love the guy and I’m happy that he’s getting the recognition that he should.”

LeBron James was relaxed, reflective and even resigned to his fate.

The end of the series, season and maybe his second stint in Cleveland Larry Johnson Jersey , are near.

The Golden State Warriors have made his eighth straight NBA Finals – and their seasonal rivalry with the Cavaliers – very one-sided.

Still weary and wrestling with emotions after losing Game 3 on Wednesday night, when Kevin Durant scored 43 points and shot the Warriors within one win of their third title in four years, James pointed out Thursday what has become terrifyingly obvious.

The Warriors are at another level. And may be for a while.

”Obviously, from a talent perspective, if you’re looking at Golden State from their top five best players to our top five players, you would say they’re stacked better than us. Let’s just speak truth,” James said before rattling off Golden State’s embarrassment of riches.

”Kevin Durant,” he said. ”You’ve got two guys with MVPs on their team. And then you’ve got a guy in Klay (Thompson) who could easily be on a team and carry a team, scored 40 in a quarter before. And then you have Draymond (Green), who is arguably one of the best defenders and minds we have in our game. So you have that crew.

”Then you add on a Finals MVP coming off the bench (Andre Iguodala), a No. 1 pick in (Shawn) Livingston and an All-Star in David West and whatever the case may be. So they have a lot of talent.”

Too much, it seems, for these Cavs.

James wasn’t making excuses for Cleveland’s postseason pickle because if not for a reversed official’s call or J.R. Smith’s brain-lock in the closing seconds of regulation in Game 1 or Durant’s brilliance in Game 3, the Cavs could be leading the series.

The three-time champion, though LeSean McCoy Jersey , was being open and honest about the Cavs’ chances to become the first team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs.

To this point, 131 have tried, and 131 have failed.

”We’ve been in a position where we could win two out of these three games,” said James, who had 33 points and his 10th Finals triple-double in Game 3. ”So what do we have to do? Do we have to make more shots? Is it we have to have our minds into it a little bit more? Is it if there is a ball on the ground we can’t reach for it but you’ve got to dive for it?”

Those were today’s relevant questions. Tomorrow, they’ll be different ones if the Warriors, who have dealt with adversity all season, sweep the Cavs.

James is headed toward free agency and then where: Los Angeles? Philadelphia? Houston?

Or will he decide it’s too painful to part again with Cleveland, his basketball home for 11 seasons and just up the highway from his actual home in Akron?

The 33-year-old plans to consider everything once the season ends, but he offered some clues about what he’ll consider before making his next move, a decision that will dwarf any other NBA news in July. James also laid out a potential blueprint for the Cavs to follow if they want to keep him.

Bottom line: James needs better, smarter teammates.

No player in the league understands the current climate better than James, who formed a super-team in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and won two NBA titles before returning to Cleveland and joining forces with All-Stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. The Cavs’ reign lasted only one year, destroyed by Durant’s shocking departure from Oklahoma City for the 73-win Warriors, a team he couldn’t beat but was glad to join.

James said his decision to bolt from the Cavs the first time was simple.

”I knew that my talent level here in Cleveland couldn’t succeed getting past a Boston Marlon Humphrey Jersey , getting past the San Antonios of the league or whatever the case may be,” he said.

But beyond the talent disparity, James said the key to winning a championship is ”you’ve got to be very cerebral too.”

James then explained what it takes to be the last team standing, and in the process seemed to take a swipe at unnamed current and former teammates.

”So now everyone is trying to figure that out,” he said. ”How do you put together a group of talent but also a group of minds to be able to compete with Golden State, to be able to compete for a championship? That’s what GMs and presidents and certain players, it’s not every player. Every player does not want to – sad to say – but every player doesn’t want to compete for a championship and be in a position where every possession is pressure.”

Months of weight will lifted off him once the Warriors, who haven’t lost four straight games since 2013, are crowned again.

This series has been a painful reminder to James that the great teams have more than one king.

”When you make mistakes they make you pay,” he said, ”because they’re already more talented than you are but they also have the minds behind it, too, and they also have the championship DNA.”



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