- Associated Press - Thursday, May 15, 2014

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - The Tampa Bay Rays put switch-hitting second baseman Ben Zobrist on the 15-day disabled list Thursday because of a dislocated left thumb.

“Right now, we’re just doing treatment and we’ve got to let the inflammation get down,” Zobrist said before the Rays began a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels. “As far as everything else, I can throw, I can do exercises and I can run, so I can keep my body in complete shape - outside of swinging and catching balls.

“So once it starts feeling good enough, I’ll be able to be able to hit left-handed first. Catching the ball will probably be the last thing.”

Zobrist was injured on a headfirst slide while trying to steal second base in Wednesday’s 2-0 victory at Seattle.

“I knew it was dislocated when I looked at it,” he said. “But I was definitely relieved that it wasn’t broken, too.”

The headfirst slide is a part of Zobrist’s game, and something he plans to continue when he returns to the lineup.

“I’ve slid headfirst a whole lot in my career,” said Zobrist, who turns 33 in less than two weeks. “And every time I’ve slid normally headfirst, I’ve been safe - not safe on the play, mind you - but as far as not getting hurt. The only two times I’ve tried to avoid a tag diving headfirst are the two times I’ve hurt myself. So for me, it’s not a matter of sliding headfirst. It’s a matter of trying to do something crazy while you’re sliding headfirst.”

Zobrist played in a career-high 157 games last season, becoming the first player in franchise history to appear in 150 or more games in five consecutive years. The nine-year veteran and two-time All-Star is batting .260 with three homers and nine RBIs for the Rays, who came to Anaheim last in the A.L. East - but just 3½ games out of first.

“This guy is a regular part of our heartbeat,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s the guy that puts you back into a normal rhythm a lot of times, so it’s no fun. But we’ve had to go through these moments before - and some of our best years we had to go through a lot of adversity early with injuries. The fact that nobody’s running away with the division while we’re going through our maladies is a good thing.”

The Rays selected the contract of Cole Figueroa from Triple-A Durham. The 26-year-old infielder was hitting .299 with three homers and 16 RBIs at Durham. This is his seventh season in professional ball and his first trip to the big leagues.