Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Justin Ruggiano relishes role with Tampa Bay Rays

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Rays chose OF Justin Ruggiano for promotion last month because they felt he was best suited for a reserve role. And once he showed he could handle not playing, he has started playing better.

And enjoying it more.

"This is the most fun I've ever had playing," he said.

Ruggiano, 29, made three consecutive starts in Anaheim and made the most of it, going 5-for-12 with four RBIs (including a homer) and several good defensive plays.

"He's on the verge right now," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's really in that Stage 3 of development, 'I belong here' kind of stuff. I kind of like how he's looking. We talked about it a lot with him in spring training. He really matured."

He showed it despite being taken off the 40-man roster (to make room for OF Johnny Damon and DH Manny Ramirez), then by starring again after opening his fifth straight season at Triple-A Durham. That led to his May 20 promotion ahead of prospects such as OF Brandon Guyer and OF Desmond Jennings.

"He's come back, and he's kind of a different cat," Maddon said. "He understands this a lot better. He understands his role. The interaction is a lot easier. He's grown up a lot."

Ruggiano said he learned to be more appreciative of the opportunity to be in the big leagues rather than concerned with whether he was playing that day: "It's really just like an overall happiness of being here right now, and that's how I go about it every day. Regardless of whether I'm in the lineup or not, I'm excited and I'll do whatever it takes to help the team win."

REMEMBER WHEN: RHP Jeremy Hellickson pitched in Baltimore on May 7 and, despite getting the win, wasn't happy with his performance, lasting only five innings as he walked five.

"I think it was just one of those days," Hellickson said. "I know that's not what kind of pitcher I am. I know I'm not going to walk that many guys again — hopefully not. I was pretty upset with my performance."

So all he has done in the five starts since then is make amends, averaging seven-plus innings, walking only 11 total and going 4-1, 1.53; in the process picking up AL pitcher and rookie of the month honors.

"I definitely took something from that," said Hellickson, now 7-3, 2.64 overall. "I know I've commanded my pitches a lot better than I did that game. It's just a matter of throwing the ball where you want to and executing."

ABOUT WEDNESDAY NIGHT: After blowing a 3-0 eighth-inning lead, the Rays won 4-3 in 10 innings, taking the lead when John Jaso scored on Reid Brig­nac's squeeze bunt. That was one pitch after Jaso, on second (and with Evan Longoria on first) with no outs, made a mad dash for third when Brignac pulled back on a sacrifice bunt attempt.

Maddon said only that Jaso "saw something" and was definitely on his own.

"I can't give away all my secrets," Jaso said. "I guess I kind of saw an opening in my head. That was kind of one of those plays where it looks great tonight but if I was out, I'd look really, really dumb. So I'm just kind of glad it all worked out.

RHP Kyle Farnsworth, though issuing his second walk of the season, finished for his 13th save and lowered his ERA to 1.17.

REHAB REPORT: INF Elliot Johnson, who sprained his left knee May 23 in Detroit, played the first of two rehab games for Durham on Thursday. As the designated hitter, he went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and two groundouts. Johnson has been going through full workouts and could be activated Satur­day.

MINOR MATTERS: LHP Matt Moore was one of four Montgomery Biscuits named to the June 21 Double-A Southern League All-Star Game, joined by RHP Marquis Fleming, C Stephen Vogt and 3B Daniel Mayora. … Class A Charlotte 2B Tyler Bortnick and RHP Alex Colome were added to the South squad for the June 18 Florida State League All-Star Game, joining four teammates.

MISCELLANY: Longoria, out of the lineup the past three games with a severe flu, said he felt fine after his 10th-inning appearance Wednesday and expects to start tonight. … Todd Kalas will be in the TV booth this weekend with analyst Brian Anderson off. … The Rays had played 20 series in Anaheim before logging their first sweep.

Justin Ruggiano relishes role with Tampa Bay Rays 06/09/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 9, 2011 11:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Countryside alum A.J. Andrews lands in ESPN's annual body issue

    Softballpreps

    A.J. Andrews has taken over the spotlight in softball. Last year, the former Countryside High and LSU standout became the first female to win a Rawlings Gold Glove in the award's 59-year existence.

    Former LSU/Countryside softball player AJ Andrews, now w/ Akron, is the first female to win a Rawlings Gold Glove in the award's 59-year history. (Courtesy of Rawlings)
  2. James Wilder Jr. back at running back...in Canada

    Blogs

    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.

  3. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  4. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  5. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)