Saturday, February 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Casali gets long-awaited Comerica appearance, as a Ray

DETROIT — Drafted by the Tigers in 2011, C Curt Casali naturally dreamed of one day playing in Comerica Park.

This weekend, he'll get that opportunity, though playing for the Rays against the Tigers.

The late March 2013 trade to get Casali didn't seem at the time like much, more of a return to let the Tigers keep LHP Kyle Lobstein, who had Rule 5 draft strings attached. Casali had spent his first two pro seasons out of Vanderbilt at the Class A level and wasn't considered a top prospect.

But it certainly turned out to be a big deal, as Casali made it to the majors by July 2014 and, after splitting 2015 between Triple A and the majors, is now the Rays primary catcher.

"Honestly, it was a blessing to get traded here," Casali said. "This created my career by being a Ray. They gave me a great opportunity to get to the big leagues here. Maybe I would have got there with Detroit, maybe not. Things work out the way the way they are supposed to."

Casali's only visit to Comerica came when he drove to see a game with his host family during the All-Star break while playing for the minor-league West Michigan Whitecaps. He is looking forward to actually being on the field. In six games against the Tigers at the Trop, he is hitting .316 with back-to-back two-homer games last July.

"There's no hard feelings toward them, but I definitely like competing against them for sure," Casali said. "I'm close with a lot of those guys, and I have a lot of good memories, my first memories of being a professional baseball player. So I'm excited to play in front of their fans, for sure."

CATCHING ON: C J. P. Arencibia appears to be nearing a return to the Rays, at least on a minor-league deal that would send him to Triple-A Durham.

Arencibia, 30, hit .310 with six homers, 17 RBIs and a .921 on-base plus slugging percentage in 24 games for the Rays late last season after spending most of the year with the Bulls. He had hoped to stay with the Rays, but was released and signed with the Phillies, who sent him to Triple A, from where he was released Monday at his request. The Rays currently have Luke Maile and Carlos Corporan catching at Durham, and Hank Conger in the majors with Casali.

MISCELLANY: As part of 3B coach Charlie Montoyo's Thursday induction into the International League Hall of Fame, the Bulls also retired his No. 25. … OF/DH Brandon Guyer has started nine straight games, hitting .268 with two homers and eight RBIs. … Besides splitting LHP Matt Moore up from LHP Drew Smyly in the rotation, another element in pushing Moore back to Monday and having RHP Chris Archer pitch Sunday is that the Tigers have a right-hand heavy lineup.

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