Monday, November 20, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Bourgeois excited for another shot at majors

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PHOENIX — One of the main reasons OF Jason Bourgeois signed with the Rays for this season was the urging of childhood friend Carl Crawford, the longtime Tampa Bay star who raved about the team, staff and situation and convinced Bourgeois he would fit in well.

So it was only fitting that when Bourgeois walked into the Rays clubhouse Tuesday, having been called up to replace injured CF Desmond Jennings, he saw that clubhouse manager Chris Westmoreland had assigned him Crawford's No. 13.

"It's crazy," Bourgeois said. "It's the first thing I saw when I got in here. I was like, 'Woah, I got the man's jersey!' I won't let him down."

Bourgeois, 31, has experience of playing parts of five seasons in the majors, most recently with the Royals in 2012, and was doing well at Triple-A Durham, hitting .291 with two homers, 57 RBIs, 21 steals and a .354 average with runners in scoring position.

Manager Joe Maddon said Bourgeois will be used situationally, as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner and as part of what could be up to a five-man ensemble in centerfield, along with Sam Fuld (who started Tuesday), Sean Rodriguez, Ben Zobrist and even rookie Wil Myers, who played the final two innings there Tuesday. Bourgeois pinch-hit and went to left, where he made a leaping catch at the wall in the eighth inning.

The key, Maddon said, will be balancing their need for defense, which Fuld provides the most of, and offense. "Wide open," Maddon said. "You could see everybody probably but (catchers Jose) Molina and (Jose) Lobaton."

Similarly, Maddon said the leadoff spot will be a "revolving door" with SS Yunel Escobar (who was there Tuesday), Zobrist and OF Matt Joyce.

Bourgeois, who got the unexpected news after Monday's game in Durham, said he was thrilled just to be a part of it again. Even better is that the Rays' next stop is Dodger Stadium, where Crawford now works.

"That's crazy timing," Bourgeois said. "It'll be great to see him."

To make room on the 40-man roster for Bourgeois, the Rays moved RHP Alex Cobb (concussion) from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list, which sets Aug.  15 as the first day he can return.

As a result, Cobb, who was struck in the head by a line drive June 15, had his next rehab start pushed back a day, to Friday for Class A Charlotte, with the possibility that he could then start next for the Rays on Aug. 15.

MOORE BETTER: LHP Matt Moore had another encouraging session playing catch and said that if his elbow continues to feel as well as it has, he could be take the mound as soon as Saturday for the first of several bullpen sessions leading to his return, potentially during the Aug. 13-18 homestand.

Moore said the ball "was coming out pretty good" as he made 40-plus throws at a distance of 70 feet with teammate David Price.

"It's definitely something that over the course of the last week it's gotten considerably better every couple of days," he said. "I'm much better now than I was two days ago, and two days before that the same thing."

DESMOND DOWN: The Rays were hoping Jennings would miss only a couple days with a sprain of his left middle finger, but a further exam and additional X-rays by specialist Dr. Doug Carlan revealed a small rim fracture on the outside of his knuckle.

Maddon said they expect Jennings to miss only the two weeks or so he will be on the DL, and to return on or close to his Aug. 19 eligible date.

"It's unfortunate," Maddon said. "We're definitely going to miss him. What's going on right now, the kinds of teams we're playing, it might be nice to have his skill set."

MISCELLANY: Maddon said he was "pleased to see action being taken" against PED users and wants believe this is "the beginning of the end." … INF Ryan Roberts, a former D'back, got a nice ovation before his first at-bat. … The D'backs welcomed back and showed a video of Rays TV analyst Brian Anderson, who pitched for them.

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