The Rays treated RHP Wade Davis cautiously at first, arranging their pitching so he'd make his debut at home against Detroit on Sunday rather than in the high-pressure environment of Monday's Yankee Stadium doubleheader.
But Davis delivered a dazzling outing, and the Rays appear ready to throw him into the rotation, announcing Tuesday that the 24-year-old will start Saturday in Fenway and take at least the next turn in Baltimore on Thursday.
RHP Andy Sonnanstine, the other candidate to take Scott Kazmir's spot, will instead work out of the bullpen.
Davis - who held the Tigers to one run and three hits over seven innings and struck out nine - welcomed the opportunity, as much for now as for a head start on winning a spot among the starting five next season.
"I don't want to go back (to Triple A), I definitely want to stay," he said. "Hopefully I have a good September and come into spring training next year and do well."
The four or five starts he could make will help the Rays in their evaluations, and could benefit Davis as well.
"I think it's going to help me put something good in my head and hopefully give me a chance to see where I stand as far as can I do this," he said. "I know I can, but a little more assurance would be good."
Sonnanstine said he was "a little bit" disappointed, but it couldn't have been a surprise: In two starts (against the Red Sox and Yankees) since returning from a two-month exile to Durham, he is 0-2 with a 14.85 ERA and .424 opponents average, allowing 14 hits and seven walks in 62/3 innings. Overall Sonnanstine - who was 13-9, 4.38 last year - is 6-9, 7.23.
"I pictured this season going a little bit different in my head, obviously," he said. "But Wade came up and had a great start and I think he deserves a couple more, and for the time being I'll be in the bullpen."
THAYER SUMMONED: RHP Dale Thayer was called up from Triple A to join the bullpen. But it sounds as if the Durham closer will play more of a mop-up or supporting role here, providing depth after Monday's doubleheader, especially with Jeff Bennett working four innings and manager Joe Maddon wanting to use Lance Cormier in more meaningful situations.
"Primarily at this point in reserve, although I'm not afraid to use Dale," Maddon said.
LONGO HONORED: 3B Evan Longoria was named the American League's co-player of the week, sharing honors with Toronto's Adam Lind, after hitting .467 with three homers, 10 RBIs and a .933 slugging percentage in seven games. It was the third time this season, and fourth overall, Longoria has won a weekly award.
TIGERS PITCHER SUSPENDED: Tigers closer Fernando Rodney was given a three-game suspension by MLB for throwing a ball into the Tropicana Field press box after Friday's game. Rodney filed an appeal, so the suspension won't start until a hearing is held.
UPTON OUT: CF B.J. Upton felt fine in his return to action Monday night from a sprained left ankle and said he expected to play Tuesday, but Maddon had other plans, starting Ben Zobrist in center. Maddon said he wanted to be cautious with Upton, and if all was well he would start tonight.
MINOR MATTERS: Class A Charlotte lost to Fort Myers (Twins) 8-7 in the opener of the Florida State League best-of-three first-round playoffs. Game 2 is tonight in Fort Myers. ... RHP Jeremy Hellickson starts for Durham tonight against Louisville in the International League best-of-five first round, with RHP Mitch Talbot in Game 2 and LHP Jason Cromer in Game 3.
MISCELLANY: Jason Bartlett's homer ended Phil Hughes' 0-for-20 streak, which was MLB's longest. ... Maddon said Chris Richard will get most of the playing time at first base. ... 1B Carlos Pena had his broken fingers examined in St. Petersburg by specialist Dr. Doug Carlan and likely will have surgery, though the specific plan may not be set for a few days. ... Rays president Matt Silverman, VPs Brian Auld and Michael Kalt and other team officials toured Yankee Stadium with representatives of Cisco to see the video and communications technology.