ST. PETERSBURG — As expected, the Rays designated 1B/DH Brad Miller for assignment Thursday afternoon to make room for the promoted Jake Bauers.
Miller, 28, was in his third season with the Rays. In 48 games this year, he hit .256 with five home runs and 21 RBIs.
"At this point in the season what (Miller) has done offensively has been okay," GM Erik Neander said. "He feels he can do better, and we believe he can do better. But at the end of the day it came to a point where we wanted to prioritize Jake and give him an opportunity. That's what drove this decision."
Being designated for assignment means Miller is immediately removed from the Rays' 40-man and 25-man roster. Within seven days, Miller must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
Manager Kevin Cash said the move was made in order to allow Miller a chance to hook on with another team.
"Brad has done a lot of good things in his time here," Cash said. "He's an unbelievable teammate. We're getting a good one, but we're also losing a good one. In fairness to Brad and his career, he's a major-league player, and we're going to do everything we can for him to continue being that."
Font starts for first time in big leagues
Wilmer Font has already had a whirlwind season. The 28-year-old began the season with the Dodgers, then played for the A's before being traded to the Rays on May 25.
He will add his first career start on Friday against the Mariners to an already unusual season. Font said he doesn't know how long his start will last, likely one and no more than two innings.
"I feel more comfortable doing that than coming in from the 'pen," said Font, who is 0-2 overall this season with a 9.78 ERA.
Welcome back, again
Denard Span felt out of place as he walked around Tropicana Field Thursday. The fomer Rays outfielder stood in the Mariners' locker room ready to embrace his new life.
On May 25, the Tampa resident, much to his surprise, was traded to Seattle.
"I got into my house last night and I was just like, 'I was playing for the Rays a week ago and now I'm in Seattle,'" Span, 34, said. "It's a little weird playing the Rays this soon after the trade."
Span was able to make deep connections with bay area fans, on and off the field, upon his return to his hometown team during the offseason. Furthermore, he had an opportunity to spend time with his family.
"For 16 years, I was away from them and this short two-month period I was able to catch up," he said of his short stint with the Rays. "I saw my nephew graduate a couple of weeks ago and it fell on a day off, and seeing my mom on a regular basis."
Span got a bit of revenge in the third inning when he hit a solo home run to right. For Span, being in familiar environs allowed him to relax.
"I've had good rapport with the front office there and all the players who I still keep in contact with. It's been nothing but love," he said.
On Wednesday, Stu and Misty Bauers were home in Los Angeles when their son Jake relayed the news he was getting called up to the Rays.
Stu Bauers picked up the phone at home and said his son teased him, acting upset that he was not in Triple-A Durham's lineup before telling them the news.
"I said, 'Oh whatever, just do what you can,'" Stu Bauers said. "And he said 'Yeah, cause they told me I'm not playing leftfield anymore.' I said, 'What's up with that?', and he said, 'Yeah, I'm playing first base at Tampa.'"
Stu Bauers said their trip to Tampa was a whirlwind. Finding a flight Wednesday night, the Bauers traveled from California to Newark, N.J., then down to Tampa. They arrived at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
Along with his parents, four friends from elementary school and Bauers' girlfriend came down to watch his big-league debut. Ever since kindergarten his son's goal was to be a major-league player, his father said. Despite the long road through several leagues to get here, Misty Bauers said her son's determination allowed him to land in the big leagues.
"He never gives up," she said. "Always been younger than the group of guys he's played with, regardless what level. One of the youngest if not the youngest. Always had to try harder and be bigger than he was, and I think that just got him here.
"I know he needs to be here and this is where he belongs, it's his dream, but then the call comes and you're like, 'Wait, what?' Then it happens so quickly that you don't get to think about anything. I was sitting on the plane last night at whatever time in the morning and it just kind of hit me, and I started crying. And I couldn't stop."
Quote of the day
"He's got show hair. It's some of the best hair in baseball." — Rays' INF Christian Arroyo, on his new teammate Bauers
Times staff writers Meagan Bens and Allana J. Barefield contributed to this report.