OAKLAND, Calif. — Struggling LHP Cesar Ramos was sent to Triple-A Durham on Tuesday as the Rays continue scrambling to get by with a six-man bullpen.
RHP Jay Buente, a 27-year-old claimed on waivers from Florida three days after a rough May outing against the Rays, was called up and joined the Rays during Tuesday's game, working a perfect seventh inning then allowing two runs in the in the eighth.
Buente arrived at the O.co Coliseum about an hour into the game, got dressed and into the dugout by the fifth inning, warmed up in the sixth and was on the mound in the seventh, meeting his new teammates and boss as he went.
"When he came in after the first inning I shook his hand and said, "Nice going, I'm Joe.' '' Maddon said.
Said Buente: "That's when I met a lot of the guys actually.''
Buente (BEN-tay) has a 1-3, 6.67 record at Durham but has been effective since moving to the bullpen July 2, posting a 1.93 ERA over eight appearances. Buente, chosen over RHP Andy Sonnanstine among others, will be used initially as a quasi-long man, in early or extra-inning situations, Maddon said.
"We had to get another guy up here," Maddon said. "We're kinda short right now."
The Rays have been operating with one less reliever than usual since the All-Star break as they switched to a six-man rotation to limit the innings of certain starters. With several of the relievers they have either struggling or tired, they have been shuffling the mix.
Ramos has decent overall numbers, 0-1, 4.22 in 46 games, but has been bad of late, allowing runs in six of his past 13 games (after doing so in only three of his previous 21) and walking six in his past four outings (after six in his previous 23).
The primary problem has been strike one: When he throws it, hitters have only a .089 average (4-for-45, and a .249 OPS). When he starts 1-and-0, they hit .296 (16-for-54) with a .951 OPS.
Ramos said he was "a little bit" surprised, but also understanding. "I kind of did it myself by struggling," he said. "I hadn't been consistent coming out of the bullpen in some clutch situations, and it's kind of been hurting the rest of the guys. So hopefully just go down there, get back on track and be back."
Buente has not had much success in the majors, posting a 6.55 ERA in eight 2010 relief appearances, allowing 16 hits and 11 walks in 11 innings, then lasting three innings vs. the Rays on May 25, allowing four runs (three earned).
His relatively successful outing capped a crazy day. He was at his apartment in Durham, N.C., when he got a noon call with word of his promotion, raced to the airport for a 1:15 flight to Miami and then another to San Francisco, and the Rays had a car waiting for him to drive him to Oakland.
"That was my day pretty much,'' he said. TRADE WINDS: The last thing CF B.J. Upton wanted to think about when he woke up Tuesday was the swirl of trade rumors surrounding him. So he turned on the TV in his San Francisco hotel room hoping to hear the latest on the NFL situation.
"And the first thing I see is me," Upton said. "ESPN was doing something on where I might go."
With the Rays maintaining their usual silence in advance of Sunday's 4 p.m. deadline for non-waiver deals, speculation is raging, with the Giants and Nationals getting considerable media attention. Washington media reported the Rays were scouting the Nationals' Class A and Triple-A teams on Monday. The Braves, Indians, Pirates and Royals have also been suggested.
"It's comedy," Upton said. "Every day is somewhere new. It's just like, whatever. … I just want it to be over with. If it's going to happen, then happen."
The rumors seem to be affecting him, as he's hitting .079 (3-for-38) his past 9 games.
RHP James Shields is also uncertain about his status, not quite believing the media reports that say he is "off the market" and hoping tonight is not his final start for the Rays.
"There's nothing I can do about it," Shields said. "I'm not really too worried about it. It's not going to affect me in any way. What it's going to do is it's gonna make me pitch harder and keep pitching the way I am. …
"My gut feeling would be that I'm not going to get traded, I'm going to stay here," he said. "That's my gut feeling, But we'll see."
Maddon said he talked with executive VP Andrew Friedman on the phone Tuesday, but only about the bullpen situation, not trades.
GUYER DOWN: OF prospect Brandon Guyer could be sidelined for close to a month after straining his oblique during Monday's game for Durham. Guyer was hitting .305 with 11 homers, 49 RBIs and an .875 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) for the Bulls and had two brief stints with the Rays.
MISCELLANY: RF Matt Joyce had his first multi-steal game. ... Top prospect LHP Matt Moore tonight makes his second start for Durham. … Demoted SS Reid Brignac reported to the Bulls but didn't play Tuesday.