ST. PETERSBURG — When the Rays traded SS Jason Bartlett to the Padres during the winter, they saw a chance to bolster their depleted relief corps.
Tonight, three of the pitchers they got in the deal will be together in the bullpen, as RHP Brandon Gomes has been called up and will join LHP Cesar Ramos and RHP Adam Russell.
Gomes, 26, will be making his major-league debut. After back-to-back seasons with the Padres' Double-A team, he made a solid impression on the Rays in spring training and got off to an impressive start at Triple-A Durham.
The 5-foot-11 right-hander posted a 1.35 ERA and .208 opponents average, struck out 22 and walked five in 131/3 innings and converted all six save opportunities he had.
The Rays could use help in middle relief. Gomes essentially takes the place of LHP Jake McGee, who was sent down Saturday to make room for the one-day callup of RHP Alex Cobb, who started Sunday and was sent back down.
With LHP J.P. Howell expected back in mid May, the Rays will have about two weeks to evaluate Gomes and to further evaluate Russell and Ramos.
The Rays also got INF Cole Figueroa, hitting .253 at Double-A Montgomery, in the deal for Bartlett, who is hitting .222 for the Padres.
ANOTHER MOVE: The Rays will have to make room today to activate 3B Evan Longoria off the DL. Veteran INF Felipe Lopez, who hit .222 in 24 games and created issues by flinging a bat and not hustling twice, seems most likely to go.
TOUGH START: SS Reid Brignac couldn't have been more confident and excited by the chance to take over the starting job after the Bartlett trade. And he couldn't be more disappointed with what he called "probably the worst month I've ever had professionally."
Not only is his average just .212 and he has 15 strikeouts and three walks, but he is the only player in the majors with at least 50 plate appearances who doesn't have an extra-base hit.
"I know I'm struggling right now, and I know I'm capable of doing a lot better, and it's at the point where I might be pressing more a little bit more than I need to at times," he said. "But I'm starting to feel a lot better. … And I know what it is (chasing too many pitches) and that's most important, that I understand it before I can fix it."
MISCELLANY: Tonight's game moves to FSN due to the Lightning playoff game. … As of Monday, the Rays had no changes to their rotation.