Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Sean Rodriguez a dad again, returns today

ST. PETERSBURG — With INF/OF Sean Rodriguez attending to his wife, Giselle, who gave birth to their fourth child Thursday, the Rays made a contingency plan, recalling INF Vince Belnome from Triple-A Durham.

But because Rodriguez, a father of a 9-pound, 211/4-inch baby boy, is expected back from the paternity list today, Belnome was optioned back to Durham following Thursday's 7-2 win over the Blue Jays.

"Just glad to be here," Belnome said.

Belnome's first big-league callup was a blur. The reigning Bulls MVP, added to the 40-man roster in the winter, found out at 1:40 p.m. he had a 2:30 flight to Tampa. He packed and hustled to the Durham airport, but after a boarding pass issue, he had to take a later flight, arriving at Tropicana Field at 8.

Belnome didn't play, but manager Joe Maddon told him after the game they were "very confident" in him coming up and he'll be back.

"It was crazy," Belnome said. "I couldn't even have any emotion; it just happened so fast. It's just nice being here and knowing that they think I can help this team in any way."

ESCOBAR EXTENSION: The team has had serious discussions with SS Yunel Escobar about an extension, though a deal is not close at the moment, said Escobar's representatives at Miami Sports Management. The Rays hold a $5 million option for 2015.

TAKING THE FIFTH: Rookie RHP Jake Odorizzi found out in the final week of spring training he earned the fifth starter's spot, then watched the other four starters throw before his season debut tonight against the Rangers. Odorizzi, 24, is "really excited'' to finally get his turn.

"First start of the year, most exciting time to really be out there and really get going, he said. "I'm going to throw my game like I did in spring and hopefully give us a chance to win."

Odorizzi impressed in his final stint with the Rays last season, with a 1.04 ERA in his final four appearances. He developed a new pitch, a split-changeup, this spring. He said he'll be a different pitcher than the Rays saw last year. Maddon believes Odorizzi has advanced from the third stage of development ("survival" ) to the fourth ("I belong here").

"I think he's at the point now where he believes he's a major-league pitcher and he can do this and do this well," Maddon said. "I know he's right on the verge of being that guy."

quick test: OF David DeJesus, who returned to the lineup for the first time since bruising his right foot Monday, went 2-for-5 as DH with a double and a triple. He came out of it okay, Maddon said.

MISCELLANY: RF Wil Myers was scratched from the lineup due to flu symptoms. Maddon said they would wait to see how he felt today. … Thursday's attendance (9,571) was the lowest at the Trop since April 30, 2012, vs. the Mariners (9,458). …The Rays split the four-game series. The Jays have not won one here since 2007. … Former Rays C Chris Gimenez cleared waivers with Texas and was outrighted to Triple-A Round Rock. He has 72 hours to accept or reject the assignment. If he rejects it, expect the Rays to push to sign him for depth at Durham. … RHP Nate Karns gave up six runs and seven walks in 22/3 innings Thursday in Durham's opener against Gwinnett. … Actor-singer Patrick Wilson, who grew up in St. Petersburg, will sing the national anthem before tonight's game.

Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.

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