Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays' Willy Aybar gets another huge hit off the bench

ST. PETERSBURG — Not surprisingly, Willy Aybar was the last position player to get into a game this season, starting at designated hitter Friday night against the Yankees.

But it also came as no surprise that Aybar delivered in his rare opportunity, hitting a two-run homer in the sixth inning of the Rays' 9-3 win. That's how Aybar has been the past two years, proving invaluable in how he always stays ready and almost always finds a way to come up with a big hit.

While regular DH Pat Burrell will be back in the lineup today, Aybar is scheduled to start at first base for Carlos Peña, who said Aybar deserves it.

"I went up to him and let him know, 'There's not many people who can do that,' " Peña said. "I let him know we appreciate what he does. That's not easy to do. To be able to do that off the bench, that's an incredible talent."

Aybar, 27, a switch-hitter who backs up at first, third and DH, set career highs in homers (12) and RBIs (41) last season despite making just 73 starts.

"I'm always working, hitting in the cage," Aybar said through an interpreter. "So I'm always mentally ready for any situation."

Meanwhile, Maddon isn't ready to give up on Burrell, who is batting .111 (1-for-9) in his first three games after struggling last season (.221 with 14 homers and 64 RBIs).

Maddon said Burrell, in the second year of a two-year, $16 million deal, has been working hard to get things straightened out and believes he's just missing his pitches.

"If a guy is not doing his work and having a hard time, then I have a hard time with the guy," Maddon said.

"Believe me. Nobody is trying harder than he is to get this straightened out. He's just fouling his pitch off right now. We've got to get him to put that pitch into play."

Maddon said he might find times throughout the season to play Aybar two days in a row, allowing him to get another chance to make an impact.

"That guy rakes," infielder Sean Rodriguez said of Aybar. "That guy can hit waking up out of bed.

"I'm like, 'Man, you're unreal.' "

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com

Tampa Bay Rays' Willy Aybar gets another huge hit off the bench 04/09/10 [Last modified: Saturday, April 10, 2010 11:59am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The Florida Gators' case for QB Luke Del Rio

    College

    GAINESVILLE — It took three years and two transfers for Florida's Luke Del Rio to become a starting quarterback.

    Florida Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio (14) warms up next to quarterback Austin Appleby (12) before the game against the North Texas Mean Green on Saturday September 17, 2016 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. Final score was Florida 32 North Texas 0. (Monica Herndon, Times)
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Thursday's Rays-Jays game

    The Heater

    RHP Tommy Hunter has been so good emerging as the top set-up man for closer Alex Colome with a dazzling run, but twice in five days he has given up a game-losing homer, Sunday to Cleveland's Austin Jackson and Thursday to Toronto's Justin Smoak.

  3. Rays morning after: There (really) are still reasons to be optimistic

    Blogs

    There are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about the Rays' chances to get out of their extended skid and make the playoffs, including veteran 3B Evan Longoria's acknowledgement after Thursday's game that the pressures of …

    Trevor Plouffe reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning against Toronto.
  4. Is Bucs kicker Nick Folk a significant upgrade over Roberto Aguayo?

    Bucs

    Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter made it clear.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk is entering his 11th NFL season. He spent three seasons with the Cowboys and seven with the Jets. [LOREN ELLIOTT  |  Times]
  5. Tim Tebow Week: 12 stories from his Tampa Bay tour

    Minors

    Alas, Tim Tebow Week — eight baseball games in eight nights that reunited Tebow with his Tampa Bay friends and admirers — is over. The fun ended Thursday night.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow meets fans and signs autographs before the beginning of the Mets at Threshers game at Spectrum Field on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 in Clearwater. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times