Rays call up Arencibia to replace injured Casali

Tampa Bay Rays catcher J.P. Arencibia in the dugout during the game between the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, August 26, 2015.
Tampa Bay Rays catcher J.P. Arencibia in the dugout during the game between the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, August 26, 2015.
Published Aug. 27, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG — C J.P. Arencibia knows plenty about the Rays, having faced them often during his three full seasons with the Blue Jays after his two-homer, four-hit 2010 debut.

But now Arencibia has to get really familiar with the Rays' pitchers quite quickly. He was called up from Triple-A Durham on Wednesday to be at the least their backup catcher for the next 2-3 weeks with Curt Casali on the DL with a strained left hamstring.

"I've faced them enough to know what some of these guys like to do," Arencibia said. "But I'm going to be sitting next to (pitching coach Jim Hickey) during the game and kind of picking his brain and watching as much film as I can. Other than that, once you get on the field, it's instincts."

After splitting 2014 between the Rangers and Triple-A Round Rock, Arencibia, 29, was deciding whether to sign this season with the Rays or Orioles. He chose Baltimore but was released at the end of spring training and ended up in the Rays organization after all, spending the past four-plus months at Triple-A Durham. Arencibia primarily played first and DH for the Bulls before going back behind the plate recently to catch 10 games, hitting 22 homers in 99 games although with a .227 average and .702 on-base plus slugging percentage.

"I'm a firm believer all things happen for a reason, and I was down there for a reason and was trying to take advantage of it for whatever that reason was," he said.

Arencibia has some celebrity cache as well, married to Kimberly Perry, lead singer of the award-winning country group the Band Perry.

The Rays initially will return Rene Rivera to the starting job he lost to Casali in late July, but once Arencibia gets familiar with the staff they will give him some time.

To make room for Arencibia on the 40-man roster, the Rays first recalled injured LHP Grayson Garvin from Double A and put him on the 60-day DL, providing Garvin with about $100,000 in major-league pay and service time but creating a spot without having to lose a player.

CASALI HUSTLE: Casali was disappointed to be sidelined during his first extended chance in the majors and when doing so well, his 10 homers tops on the team since his mid June call-up.

"It's just terrible timing," he said.

Though pained even to jog now, he is hoping to miss only 2-3 weeks and is certain he will be back before the end of the season. The hamstring had been tight for a few days, but he said he felt good going into Tuesday's game.

Casali also wanted to clarify — despite what some may have read in mocking Internet reports — that he was not hurt during a home run trot but was running hard to first because he didn't know if the ball was going out: "I did not strain my hamstring trotting around the bases.''

DESMOND TO DL? OF Desmond Jennings may be headed back to the DL after leaving Tuesday's game with a bruise on the same left knee that sidelined him for 31/2 months and required surgery and sitting out Wednesday.

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Though Tuesday's game was Jennings' first on the Trop turf since returning from the DL, manager Kevin Cash said that was "not at all" a factor. He said that it was "more him banging it" on a slide into second Saturday and that "it never felt quite right," and that he may have aggravated it running the bases Tuesday.

If Jennings is shelved, likely replacements are OF Joey Butler, OF Mikie Mahtook or INF Richie Shaffer.

IN THE PROCESS: 1B James Loney said before the game that he hadn't decided whether to proceed with the appeal of his one-game suspension or drop it and sit out. Tonight might be a good game to take it since the Twins are starting a lefty and Loney might not be in the lineup, but with Jennings' status unclear the Rays may not want to be two players short.

MISCELLANY: OF Kevin Kiermaier hit his MLB-most 12th triple, becoming the first outfielder to have at least a dozen triples and assists since Carlos Beltran for the 2001 Royals. … RHP Brandon Gomes' streak of retired batters ended at 26 when he allowed an eighth-inning homer to SS Eduardo Escobar, capping his first multi-homer game. … 3B Evan Longoria hit his 14th homer, tying 2B Logan Forsythe for second on the team behind injured OF Steven Souza Jr. … Top 2015 draft pick OF Garrett Whitley was promoted from the Gulf Coast League team to short-season Class A Hudson Valley for the final two weeks of the season. .