Even though this weekend's series won't have any major playoff implications, there still should be some energy on both benches at Tropicana Field. It is the Red Sox and Rays, after all.
The two clubs, who had their share of differences over batters hit by pitches earlier this season and during the last few years, will begin a four-game set Friday. Boston is in last place in the American League East, while the fourth-place Rays saw their postseason chances shrink as they dropped three of four games to the division-leading Orioles in their latest series.
The Red Sox and Rays cleared the benches on May 25 in St. Petersburg after shortstop Yunel Escobar stole third with a five-run lead in the seventh. Boston, particularly former Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes, took offense and tempers flared. Both benches cleared again at Fenway Park just a few days later.
Then, when the two clubs played in late July, Rays pitcher Chris Archer -- who will start Friday's series opener -- took offense to David Ortiz's bat flip and slow trot around the bases after a three-run homer off the right-hander, sparking critical postgame remarks from both players.
Archer said that it was an example of Ortiz acting bigger than the game, while Ortiz responded that the young pitcher wasn't the right player to be making those comments.
The day before he faces Big Papi and the Sox again, Archer was in no mood to discuss the incident any further.
"I'm not going to say anything about it," he said.
Since that July 27 start, Archer has been stellar, posting a 1.99 ERA and .220/.282/.280 slash line against in five outings.
For the Red Sox, it will be Anthony Ranaudo -- the club's No. 5 prospect according to MLB.com -- taking the hill for his third Major League start. Friday would be Brandon Workman's day, but the righty was optioned following his rough start Saturday against the Mariners.
Ranaudo was named International League Pitcher of the Year on Tuesday. The 6-foot-7 righty went 14-4 with a 2.61 ERA, 2.05 K/BB ratio and .223 batting average against over 24 starts. He was scheduled to start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, but Workman will take his place.
Ranaudo has made two starts for the Red Sox this season, allowing 12 hits and six earned runs over 12 innings in a pair of wins.
Red Sox: Bogaerts will be activated Saturday
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts received medical clearance Wednesday after suffering a concussion Friday when Felix Hernandez hit him in the head with an 88-mph changeup.
Manager John Farrell said that Bogaerts will join the team for the weekend's series and be activated Saturday when he's eligible to come off the seven-day concussion disabled list. Brock Holt has played short in his absence.
"He's gone through some running and some throwing. He's on his way to Florida, he'll go through a full work day on Friday and then be ready for Saturday," Farrell said.
Rays: Archer heads home early to prepare for start
Archer departed for the Tampa Bay area on Thursday afternoon, not hanging around for Thursday night's game against the Orioles.
Archer's travel was nothing unusual. Many times when the Rays are playing a night game and travel home after the game -- without an off-day the following day -- the starting pitcher for the next night's game will leave early.
"I'm just happy that the team, the organization knows the importance of getting a good night's sleep for the starting pitcher," Archer said.
The right-hander said he would be watching his team's finale against the O's, which the Rays lost, 5-4, from home.
• Ortiz sat out Monday and Tuesday with a bruised right foot, but he returned to Boston's lineup Wednesday. He didn't have any issue and should be ready for Friday's game against the Rays.
It will be his first time facing off with Archer since their exchange.
• Rays left-hander Drew Smyly's 1.50 ERA is the best of any pitcher in his first five starts with the ballclub. The previous best was set by David Price (2.22 in 2008-09), whom Smyly was traded for at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.