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Two prospects get first major-league callups to aid banged-up Tampa Bay Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — The unexpected arrivals of C Robinson Chirinos and LHP Alex Torres, the departure of RHP Adam Russell and temporary idling of RHP Juan Cruz were all evidence that the fallout from Sunday's marathon was greater than just a loss.

And the residue continued after Monday's 5-4 loss to the Yankees, as Torres — who made his big-league debut, picking up the loss while throwing 44 pitches — was optioned back down so the Rays could call up another fresh arm for their depleted bullpen today.

Chirinos, 27, was summoned from Triple-A Durham to make his major-league debut after Jose Lobaton sprained his left knee during his first Rays start in place of injured John Jaso. Chirinos, acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade, went right into the lineup, going 1-for-3.

Torres, 23, acquired from the Angels in the Scott Kazmir trade, had been on call in case Alex Cobb hadn't been able to make the scheduled start and ended up with his first promotion to the big leagues anyway.

The Rays seemed set on sending down RHP Brandon Gomes to make room for Cobb but changed plans when Cruz felt some tightness in his groin while warming up Sunday. He threw nine pitches to get his two outs and said it felt better during the game, but the Rays chose a cautious route and placed him on the 15-day DL with what is being called a mild strain.

Cruz, who ran the stadium stairs to test it Monday, said he didn't know how long he'd be out.

"It's been a lingering kind of thing the last three days in a row, and he's starting to feel it, so we had to do something," manager Joe Maddon said.

With the need to supplement a bullpen down to three available pitchers for Monday, Russell, who was out of options, ended up being designated for assignment. That gives the Rays 10 days to trade or release him or pass him through waivers to send him to the minors, and Maddon said they'd like to hang on to him. Russell was 1-2, 3.03 in 36 appearances in mostly low-leverage situations, walking 20 in 322/3 innings.

"We love his stuff; we just need to get him more consistent within the strike zone," Maddon said.

BATTY SCENE: Rays C Kelly Shoppach said it was "quite a distraction" when Boston's Marco Scutaro threw his bat in Shoppach's direction as he tracked a foul popup in the 11th inning Sunday. "That was pretty extreme," Shoppach said. "I'm certain it wasn't his intent, but that can't be done."

Shoppach said it wasn't his place to have an opinion on whether Scutaro should have been ejected. Bench coach Dave Martinez did and was ejected.

LONGO LOWDOWN: 3B Evan Longoria said the nerve condition in his left foot hasn't affected him much since his second pain-killing shot July 9. But Longoria, hitting .233 with 11 homers and 43 RBIs, didn't rule out the possibility that he was still limited by the oblique strain that sidelined him for a month. "No, no, no. I don't feel like it. I just … nah, I'm not going to say any more than that. I don't think it's affecting me. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't."

LOW LOBATON: Lobaton was disappointed after spraining the MCL in his left knee blocking a pitch in the ninth inning Sunday in his sixth career big-league start, first since 1999 with San Diego. Lobaton felt something "pop" but said doctors told him the injury wasn't bad, though he had yet to have an MRI exam.

MISCELLANY: The Rays promoted top prospect LHP Matt Moore to Durham. … OF Matt Joyce said his sore right knee felt better and Maddon said he was available to pinch-hit, but it could be a few days until he returns to the lineup. … Among the scouts at Monday's game was St. Louis' Bruce Benedict, noteworthy given the OF Colby Rasmus trade chatter coming out of St. Louis. … RHP Wade Davis, on the DL with a forearm strain, said he feels good and hopes to start as soon as Saturday in Kansas City, but Maddon said such a quick return was "unlikely."

Two prospects get first major-league callups to aid banged-up Tampa Bay Rays 07/18/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 1:18pm]
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