Rays journal: Casey Sadler loads up the camper for trip back to majors

Former Pirates pitcher excited by call-up; Nick Ciuffo is too as Mike Zunino goes on paternity list.
Hall of Fame manager and Tampa native Tony La Russa, now vice president and special assistant to the president of baseball operations for the Red Sox, watches batting practice prior to Boston's game against the Rays on Friday, April 19, 2019, at Tropicana Field. [CHRIS O'MEARA   |   Associated Press]
Hall of Fame manager and Tampa native Tony La Russa, now vice president and special assistant to the president of baseball operations for the Red Sox, watches batting practice prior to Boston's game against the Rays on Friday, April 19, 2019, at Tropicana Field. [CHRIS O'MEARA | Associated Press]
Published April 19
Updated April 20

ST. PETERSBURG – Casey Sadler didn’t need much time to get ready before heading south after getting word around 12:20 a.m Friday of his somewhat unexpected promotion from Triple-A to join the Rays.

That’s because Sadler, plus wife Marin and daughter Kaysen (who turned 2 Thursday), live during the season in a camper they pull behind their SUV, which was parked at a campground in Durham, N.C.

“We were in and out of there, unhooked and on the road in about 40 minutes,’’ Sadler said.

They had reason to be in a hurry, as Sadler, 28, was understandably excited getting the chance to be back in the majors after short stints pitching for the Pirates over three previous seasons in a 10-year pro career, and because they were headed toward their permanent home in the Bradenton area and were eager to spend the night there.

Marin did most of the driving so Casey could nap during what is normally about a 10-hour trip, though the severe weather slowed them down. They ended up coming straight to the Trop, and as Sadler prepped for the game, the girls rested in the camper in the stadium parking lot.

Sadler said they started using the camper as their in-season home last year while with the Pirates’ Indianapolis team, and enjoyed it as Marin and Kaysen were able to come to many road games that way, too. (Sadler provided some details on Twitter Saturday morning, that the camper is 36 feet long and includes a separate room for Kaysen; also that they left from Norfolk, Va., where the Durham team last played, and the trip took 15 1/2 hours.)

“I kind of feel a little redneck right now (in explaining),’’ Sadler said. “It’s fun. It gave us a little bit of a sense of home and normal. You’re not moving in and out of apartments and hotels and things like that. .. I wish I would’ve done it a long time ago. Saves you a little money, too. Rent gets expensive in some of those upper-level minor-league cities.’’

Sadler got the call, over Jake Faria and others, because he was freshest among the available arms at Durham. The Rays used him for two innings Friday, both clean, and how long he stays could be relative to how the rest of their bullpen stacks up and their other needs. Emilio Pagan, who threw two innings Thursday, was sent down. To make room on the 40-man roster, Jose De Leon was moved from the 10- to the 60-day injured list, meaning he can’t return from Tommy John surgery rehab before May 27.

Ciuffo had an interesting trip, too

With catcher Mike Zunino heading home to Gainesville to be with wife Alyssa for the couple weeks early birth of their first child, the Rays needed to bring up Nick Ciuffo as a backup to Michael Perez. Ciuffo got the call from Triple-A manager Brady Williams around 12:15 a.m. but was already asleep and didn’t hear his phone. He instead actually got word about an hour later, thanks to Durham teammate Nathan Lukes, who was outside Ciuffo’s apartment after getting directions his wife got from Ciuffo’s girlfriend. “I was out, and all of a sudden I heard this loud banging on my back glass window,’’ Ciuffo said. “It was Lukey yelling, “Wake up and call Brady.’ ‘’ Ciuffo, who debuted last year, didn’t get back to sleep much, heading to the field around 7 a.m. for his equipment then to the airport. Zunino was placed on the paternity list and can have up to three days off.

Medical matters

Infielder Joey Wendle said he felt ready to be activated after testing his previously strained left hamstring in instructional league games this week, but his reinstatement may be predicated on whether the Rays to keep need an extra pitcher for Saturday and Sunday. … Ace Blake Snell, who fractured a toe Sunday, is slated to throw a bullpen Saturday with hopes of starting again next week. … De Leon felt great Friday after making his post-Tommy John surgery start in extended spring training in Port Charlotte, throwing 18 of 22 pitches for strikes over 1 1/3 innings with four strikeouts. He expects at least two more extended spring games before a 30-day rehab assignment.

Miscellany

* Jalen Beeks pitched two games for the Red Sox before being traded to the Rays on July 25 for Nathan Eovaldi and he got his reward Friday, presented his World Series ring by Sox manager Alex Cora and GM Dave Dombrowski.

* Cora, who was a coach in Houston in 2017 when now Rays starter Charlie Morton pitched there, said he has noticed changes in his delivery.

* Tampa native Tony La Russa, in his second season as a Red Sox VP, had a homecoming as part of the traveling party.

Advertisement