Rays' Kotchman Hospitalized With Chest Tightness

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Infielder Casey Kotchman #11 of the Tampa Bay Rays is hit by a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 25, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, the Tampa Bay Rays hosted the New York Yankees in what was (so far) the Rays' most important game of the season. Win, and they're assured of playing beyond Wednesday, either in a Thursday playoff against the Red Sox or Friday in the first game of a Division Series.

Casey Kotchman, one of the biggest and most surprising reasons for the Rays' success this season, was slated (as usual) to start at first base. Until this:

Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman was taken to an area hospital as a precaution after experiencing tightness in his chest prior to Tuesday night's game against the Yankees, the team reports.

Kotchman, who was slated to play first base in Tuesday's game, was taken out of the Rays clubhouse on a stretcher and will undergo precautionary tests.

In Kotchman's absence, Sean Rodriguez shifted to first base from shortstop, with Reid Brignac taking over at short.

Update: Happy endings all around, as Kotchman was released from the hospital, all tests negative, and the Rays beat the Yankees without him. Still, Kotchman's status for Wednesday's series finale is unknown.

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