ST. PETERSBURG — The idea of allowing first-round pick Brendan McKay to continue his career at the pro level as a two-way player has come closer to reality.
McKay, who was introduced to the media Friday afternoon, said he and the organization have worked out a schedule that will allow him to start a game as a pitcher, then play first base, then DH while allowing a day for a bullpen session.
McKay, the fourth overall pick in last month's draft, will head to short-season Class A Hudson Valley this month, where he said the plan is for him to pitch about 30 innings.
That will give him 140 for the season, including his workload at Louisville.
"I think we're doing it right by him and he's doing it right by himself," manager Kevin Cash said. "Let's explore it and see what comes out of it. He's obviously going to have a little shortened season here. He's a special talent on the mound and he's a special talent at the plate. I don't think we want to interfere with either of those."
McKay thinks he can make it work and that he could be a trend-setter.
"I think it could have a big impact on the game," he said. "MLB rosters are at 25 guys, and if you have a couple of guys who can do both you can expand your roster essentially from 25 guys to 26, 27, 28 guys. It can give a team a lot of options late in a game. Just in general, you have a lot of options to build your organization."
The Rays signed two draft picks before Friday's 5 p.m. deadline — 18th-round CF Michael Smith (San Jacinto College North) and 22nd-round RHP Alex Valverde (Miami Dade JC). They did not sign RHP Drew Rasmussen (Oregon State), their second pick (31st overall), 11th-round RHP Justin Lewis (Kentucky) and 38th-round C JJ Schwarz (Florida). They signed 31 of their 41 picks.
Miller returns, Beckham to DL
As expected, INF Tim Beckham (sprained left ankle) was placed on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to Thursday and 2B Brad Miller (groin) was activated. Beckham, who said he doesn't expect to be out long, is eligible to return July 16, meaning with next week's All-Star Break he could miss only six games.
Cash said Beckham will be involved in a shortstop/second base platoon with Miller and SS Adeiny Hechavarria when he returns. The idea is to create days off to keep players fresh.
"They're all going to play. Simple as that," Cash said. "We've given that message to everybody. We're going to be upfront and honest. You'd rather be an everyday player heavy than an everyday player light."
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Cash said there are no current plans to use Beckham in the outfield.
CF Kevin Kiermaier (right hip fracture) played catch and took dry swings for the first time since his injury. RHP Matt Andriese (right hip stress reaction) played catch at 60 feet. … 2B Rickie Weeks (right shoulder impingement/right hand injury) is close to starting a minor-league rehab assignment. … LHP Xavier Cedeno (left forearm tightness) played catch. … RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Tommy John) threw from halfway up the mound for the first time.