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Tampa Bay Rays trade for Phillies minor-league veteran Rich Thompson to add outfield depth

Published May 17, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG — With the Rays' centerfield depth depleted, they acquired speedy OF Rich Thompson from the Phillies on Wednesday for minor-league OF Kyle Hudson.

Thompson, 33, took the spot of OF Brandon Guyer, who was placed on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain. To make room on the 40-man roster, RHP Jeff Niemann (right fibula fracture) was moved to the 60-day disabled list, pushing his return date back to July 14.

Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said they had to go outside the organization, with OF Desmond Jennings (left knee), OF Sam Fuld (right wrist) and Guyer all injured. Friedman said Thompson, who has spent most of his 13 professional seasons in the minors, fits the "true centerfielder" profile better than Triple-A options Jesus Feliciano and Jeff Salazar.

"Rich is a guy that his key attribute is his speed, and he uses it extremely well, both offensively and defensively," Friedman said.

Thompson, a left-handed hitter, has 442 stolen bases in his minor-league career and was batting .307 for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. As fast as Thompson is, it took him a long time to get back to the majors, his last exposure a six-game, one at-bat stint in 2004 with the Royals. He's the only nonpitcher since 1947 to record two outs with his only major-league swing, hitting into a double play.

Thompson, who joined the Rays during the game, told the Philadelphia Inquirer he got a phone call at 10:45 a.m. that he had a 1:45 p.m. flight to Florida. He entered the game as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning.

"It's awesome," he told the paper.

Friedman said Guyer first felt discomfort in his shoulder Sunday while swinging in the batting cage, and it was clear after a few days he needed some time off, sparking the trade. Guyer is the ninth Ray currently on the disabled list.

"We spent a lot of time in the offseason going through different scenarios and trying to ensure that we had the requisite number of depth in house," Friedman said. "And I think one thing we kind of overlooked in the offseason was, 'What if all these (injuries) happened at one time?' "

NO WORRIES: Though LHP Matt Moore's numbers say he's struggling, the touted rookie said he hasn't lost confidence and isn't far from where he wants to be.

"I feel good because there's a lot of at-bats in the games where they go my way and it's three pitches, four pitches and outs, and I'm having quick innings," Moore said. "It's just the last couple starts, I've had some crooked numbers up there, one or two big innings."

MEDICAL MATTERS: Manager Joe Maddon said 3B Evan Longoria (hamstring) took batting practice Wednesday. "He did feel good, and he swung the bat well without having any kind of negative feelings," Maddon said. Maddon said Longoria hasn't began to run yet, and he isn't sure of the return date. … C Jose Lobaton (shoulder soreness) had his rehab assignment moved to Double-A Montgomery, with Maddon saying he still has 7-10 days to go before rejoining the Rays.

RHP Kyle Farnsworth (elbow strain) said his rehab is going well, having recently played catch from 90 feet, and he could begin to throw off a mound in the next week.

MISCELLANY: DH/OF Hideki Matsui picked up his first hit for Triple-A Durham on Wednesday, an RBI double in going 2-for-4. … OF Matt Joyce will visit pediatric patients today at Tampa General Hospital at noon. … Maddon praised 2B/RF Ben Zobrist's work as leadoff hitter as "wonderful" but said Jennings will return atop the lineup when he gets back from the DL.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

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