Bartlett is fifth regular to leave lineup

CLEVELAND -- The injuries are mounting for the defending American League champions.

The Tampa Bay Rays placed shortstop and leading hitter Jason Bartlett on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a sprained left ankle, giving the team five injured regulars.

Bartlett was replaced on the roster by infielder Joe Dillon, who was called up from Triple-A Durham. Dillon was in uniform and available for Tuesday night's game against the Cleveland Indians.

It's another blow to a team already playing without second baseman Akinori Iwamura, closer Troy Percival, designated hitter Pat Burrell and staff ace Scott Kazmir. Iwamura is lost for the season with a torn knee ligament, and Percival's career might be finished because of right shoulder tendinitis. He is contemplating his future.

Bartlett hurt the ankle Sunday against Florida, but was expected to return to the lineup Tuesday against Cleveland following a day off. After a visit with team trainer Ron Porterfield, Bartlett landed on the DL instead.

"It's in a bad spot and it's sore," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Ronnie is not comfortable with it."

Bartlett is in the midst of a career season, batting .373 with seven homers, 30 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. He began the year as a .276 lifetime hitter.

For the second straight night, Willy Aybar started at second base and Reid Brignac started at shortstop. The Rays lost their starting middle infield in a span of about 48 hours.

"It's not the way you'd ever draw it up, but we went through [injuries] last year, also," Maddon said. "I often believe that when you go through some difficult moments, a lot of good things can occur. Obviously some people have the chance to step up and become players."

Iwamura was transferred to the 60-day disabled list in order to make room for Dillon on the 40-man roster.

One day after blowing their largest lead in club history, the Rays were at least hoping for some good news on Burrell. But his early hitting session scheduled for Tuesday was canceled because his strained neck hadn't progressed as expected. He will likely try hitting again sometime during the Rays' five-game homestand, which begins Friday against Minnesota.

"The neck is still stiff," Maddon said. "It's still not loosening up as we thought it would."

As for Monday's 11-10 loss to the Indians, after the Rays led 10-0, Maddon didn't expect it to have a hangover effect on his club.

"Sometimes it happens. That's how baseball is played," Maddon said. "If you want to carry losses like that, there's a pretty good chance two or three more are going to fall. You have to eject this and move on. You can't let things fester."