DETROIT — Rays officials portrayed the Friday signing of veteran C J.P. Arencibia to a minor-league deal as purely a move to add depth to the organization rather than the starting of a clock to make a change at the big-league level.
But it's fair to wonder if that will change in time.
Arencibia, 30, was assigned to Triple-A Durham, where he spent most of last season, to good reviews, and then joined the Rays in August, hitting .310 with six homers, 17 RBIs and a .921 on-base plus slugging percentage in 24 games. Carlos Corporan, who had been sharing time with Luke Maile for the Bulls, was released.
"J.P. did a lot of good things for us last year," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "In Triple A, the guys loved the teammate he was, then he got up here and performed well for us.
"I think it's just kind of added depth for us right now. Let's see if we can get him back to where he was last year, that last month of the season for us."
Arencibia had hoped to stay with the Rays but was released in November, and a month later the Rays acquired Hank Conger in trade. Arencibia signed with the Phillies, but was sent to Triple A and played sparingly, so he asked for his release on Monday.
The Rays have Curt Casali and Conger in the big leagues. Though neither has hit well, Casali has been somewhat productive, with five homers and 14 RBIs to go with his .188 average, throwing out 4 of 12 basestealers. Conger, after an 0-for-4 Friday, is batting .157 with one RBI and has thrown out 1 of 14 basestealers.
Arencibia was pleased to rejoin the Tampa Bay organization, posting on his Twitter account: "Content: in a state of peaceful happiness. Now let's get back to work and make it happen. #Rays"
ALL SMYLY: Former Tigers LHP Drew Smyly today makes his second start as a Comerica Park visitor, getting a five-inning no-decision during the Rays' September trip. Smyly was drafted, developed and debuted by Tigers, pitching parts of three big-league seasons with them before the "part of the business" July 31, 2014 trade to the Rays for LHP David Price.
"I always enjoyed my time here so it's fun to come back where it started for me," he said. "I had a lot of games on this field (51, 17 starts), and it's a good pitcher's park, so I enjoy playing here. It's going to be fun (today)."
What will make it better, of course, is if he avoids the control lapses from his last start, which included three consecutive first-inning walks and four total. "I don't expect that to be the case (today)," he said. "I know I can fill the strike zone up, it's just a matter of executing your pitches."
QUITE THE HONOR: 3B coach Charlie Montoyo was thrilled with the Thursday night ceremonies in Durham, N.C., marking his induction into the Triple-A International League Hall of Fame, and the surprise retirement of his No. 25 by the Durham Bulls, where he managed for eight years.
"It was awesome all the love the showed me, retiring my number, the messages on the board, and the fans," Montoyo said, a bit weary after back-to-back 7 a.m. flights. "There's no words to explain how cool it was."
REHAB REPORT: RHP Brad Boxberger (core muscle repair surgery) shifts his rehab assignment to Durham tonight, and will work out of the bullpen rather than start, another sign of progress. This is the third of a planned six appearances, which will include back-to-back outings. Boxberger is slated for a late May return.
MISCELLANY: Cash got his 100th win. … Friday opened a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. … OF/DH Brandon Guyer was out of the lineup so he could have the benefit of back-to-back days off after starting nine straight; Steven Souza Jr. hit leadoff. … Cash had what may have been the best day at Comerica Park, going 4-for-4 with three doubles for the Jays on April 13, 2004.