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Tampa Bay Rays plan minimal initial callups when rosters expand

TORONTO — The Rays' initial plans for Thursday's roster expansion are minimal, but with the possibility of more — maybe even LHP Matt Moore — to come later depending on where they stand in the postseason race.

Manager Joe Maddon that said at the most they'd add three players right away, and that their primary areas of need are a third catcher, depth in the bullpen and an outfielder who would help them with better matchups.

Likely translations:

Jose Lobaton, who is rehabbing his sprained left knee at Class A Charlotte, as the third catcher, with the possibility they could wait a few extra days if he needs it, or bringing back Robinson Chirinos.

• One or two relievers to work early or in blowouts, from the rostered group of RHPs Jay Buente, Dane De La Rosa, Rob Delaney, Mike Ekstrom and, yes, Andy Sonnanstine.

• OF Brandon Guyer, or rehabbing Justin Ruggiano, to provide an extra right-handed bat for when they face lefty starters.

Additional moves beyond that, Maddon said, will be a product of the standings, "contingent upon how well we do over the next week or 10 days."

If they are in the race, one of the possibilities would be to call up Moore, the top prospect who has starred at Double A and Triple A, and use him in relief, as they did David Price in 2008.

The Bulls' season ends Sept. 5, but they are headed to the playoffs; Maddon said that wouldn't affect decisions on callups.

UPTON UPDATE: CF B.J. Upton was pleased to still be with the Rays after Monday's deadline passed to trade him to the still unknown team that claimed him on waivers.

"I've always been happy to be here," he said. "I've told you guys that from the start."

Even more so, he said, because he feels the Rays are going to stay in the race. "I think this last month is going to be a lot of fun," he said. "It's been fun all year, but we're very much in this race right now and I want to be a part of it."

Upton said he wasn't worried or "even thinking about" the 1:30 deadline, but still relieved it passed, as he was at the July 31 deadline for nonwaiver deals: "I'm happy it's over with."

The Rays seemed more likely to explore deals for Upton during the winter, and he said he'll deal with that then, hoping he gets to return next season — "I'd love to stay" — and beyond.

"The offseason will be the offseason and if I happen to get a call, then so be it," he said. "Right now I'm planning on finishing this last month and I'm going to approach the offseason like I'm coming back to Tampa."

Maddon said a deal was never close, and it was "unfortunate" that word got out that Upton had been claimed since teams routinely run players through waivers and pull them back.

"There was all this concern about this, but there was nothing really going on," he said. "(Executive VP Andrew Friedman) never spoke to me about it at all. It's just a procedural thing. It happens."

HEAT WARNING: The Rays are making some adjustments and taking some precautions with a forecast high of 106 today in Texas, and temperatures expected to remain in, or close to, triple digits into the evening.

Starter Jeremy Hellickson, who flew ahead of the team early Monday evening, has been drinking lots of water and electrolytes for several days in an effort to stay hydrated and will shorten his pregame bullpen session.

The players will take an abbreviated batting practice this afternoon — primarily to re-familiarize with the hitting backdrop and field since this is their first visit since last year's playoffs — and likely not do outdoor pregame work Wednesday or Thursday.

MISCELLANY: The Rays sent out an e-mail to voters pushing Hellickson's case for the AL rookie of the year award. … DH Johnny Damon tied Fred Clarke for 63rd place on the all-time hit list at 2,703 and had his 13th career multihomer game. … It was the Rays' third multi-homer game of the series, fourth of the season. … Author/pitcher Dirk Hayhurst was released from Triple-A Durham.

Tampa Bay Rays plan minimal initial callups when rosters expand 08/29/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 12:10am]
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