Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Grady Sizemore makes good first impression on Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Less than two weeks after signing 32-year-old Grady Sizemore to a minor-league deal, the Rays inserted the three-time All-Star into the No. 2 spot as the DH on Sunday.

Whether the move represents a career resuscitation or cameo for Sizemore, whose career has been derailed by back and knee surgeries, remains to be seen. But if he can replicate Sunday's effort — 3-for-5, double, RBI — the former scenario could prevail.

Sizemore's three hits tied Tino Martinez (2004) and Gerald Williams (2000) for most in a Rays debut. A fourth well-hit ball resulted in a flyout to center.

"It was one of those days where you just feel good at the plate and you have good timing," said Sizemore, released by the Phillies on June 1. "I've gotten some good at-bats down in (Class A Charlotte) to help out, so I just try to come in here and put good at-bats together and do what I can."

For the short term, look for Sizemore, a left-handed hitter, to remain in the lineup, perhaps even periodically in the outfield. Cleveland, for whom Sizemore earned each of his All-Star nods, is expected to start all right-handers when it arrives at the Trop for a four-game series starting tonight.

KK IS OKAY: Sunday's addition of a veteran left-handed bat (Sizemore) prompted speculation about the health of CF Kevin Kiermaier, held out of the lineup for the second straight game Sunday. Kiermaier pinch-hit in the ninth, striking out on three pitches against Red Sox closer Koji Uehara.

"Just keeping him off the turf one more day," manager Kevin Cash said. "His legs are a little drained. He's fine."

ANDRIESE TO DURHAM: To make room on the active roster for Sizemore, the Rays optioned RHP Matt Andriese to Triple-A Durham. They made room on the 40-man roster by transferring OF Desmond Jennings (left knee surgery) from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list.

Less than 24 hours before, Andriese had his best start as a big-leaguer, holding the Red Sox to a hit over six innings in a 70-pitch gem. Still, Sunday's demotion was no surprise, with LHP Matt Moore returning this week.

"He looks like he's really figuring some things out," Cash said. "His last three outings were really good, and to do what he did (Saturday) against a very good team is pretty impressive."

NOT-SO-MINOR MATTER: Casey Gillaspie, the Rays' 2014 first-round pick, hit a grand slam in his debut for advanced Class A Charlotte. He had a Midwest League-high 16 home runs at Bowling Green before his promotion.

ODDS AND ENDS: Sizemore became the 46th player used by the Rays this season, extending a club record before the All-Star break. … The Rays have lost three times when recording double-digit hits during this homestand. In their first 71 games, they lost four when notching that many. … Red Sox RHP Justin Masterson, making his first start in nearly seven weeks following a DL stint, allowed no earned runs in five innings. "He wasn't throwing the same velocity that we're used to seeing him throw," Cash said. "But you could tell he had a lot of depth on his sinker and the slider had a lot of sweep to it." … The combined attendance for the Red Sox series was 63,347, highest for a three-game home series this season.

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