Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

New infielder Drew Sutton enjoys first few days with Tampa Bay Rays

Drew Sutton didn't choose the walkup song that plays before his home at-bats, but he laughed at how fitting Metallica's Wherever I May Roam is.

"If they did that on purpose, that's pretty funny," the infielder said, smiling. "That's pretty good, or maybe Willie (Nelson's) On the Road Again."

Sutton, 29, has been well-traveled in a whirlwind week. He was traded twice Sunday, including being acquired by the Rays from the Pirates. He flew to Atlanta after Wednesday's game to gather more of his stuff; he had been on the road in Rochester, N.Y., with the Braves' Triple-A Gwinnett club when he was sent to Tampa Bay. Sutton planned to fly on his own Thursday to Boston to meet the Rays for the Red Sox series this weekend.

In the midst of all that, Sutton picked up two hits in his first start Tuesday, then batted cleanup for the first time in the majors Wednesday, ripping a two-run double. "I can't really imagine the first two days going any better," Sutton said.

Manager Joe Maddon has been impressed with the versatile switch-hitter, who has played parts of three big-league seasons with the Red Sox and Indians.

"I like his demeanor on the field; he's very calm, understands situations," Maddon said. "He seems to have a high baseball IQ. I like the way he's able to apparently slow the game down and definitely has a good feel for it. He's done really well."

Sutton, who played 31 games for the Red Sox last season, said he is looking forward to seeing former teammates and friends at Fenway Park.

"That'll actually be pretty neat," Sutton said. "Because those guys were really helpful to me last year. I kind of went through a tough time personally." First baseman Adrian Gonzalez and C Jarrod Saltalamacchia were among the players who were "awesome," he said. "That organization was really, really good to me."

TOUGH TASK: The Rays face a resurgent Red Sox team, which has won seven of its past 10 despite key injuries to OF Jacoby Ellsbury, LF Carl Crawford, 3B Kevin Youkilis and OF Cody Ross.

Rays LHP J.P. Howell said he is not surprised Boston (22-22) has bounced back.

"The light hasn't turned on quite yet for some teams, but it all starts right about now when you want to get into a little bit of a rhythm," he said. "They've been battling injuries. They're staying afloat. They're going to be within striking distance all year, I suspect."

ON A ROLL: LHP Jake McGee has settled into a good rhythm, allowing one run in his past 15 appearances, spanning 12 1/3 innings.

A key has been attacking the strike zone and developing his slider, which he said was at its best in Wednesday's 5-4, 11-inning win against the Blue Jays. He struck out two of three hitters in the 11th to pick up the win.

"I've been able to throw it more for strikes," McGee said. "Because at the beginning of the year it was ball, ball, ball. That's the biggest thing I need to do, is to throw it for strikes to lefties, and it's there."

MISCELLANY: 1B/OF Brandon Allen (quad strain) is eligible to come off the disabled list today. … The Rangers claimed LHP John Gaub, who was designated by the Rays to make room for Sutton.

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