NEW YORK – The Rays have been shuffling relievers up and down from the minors all season in their ongoing quest to keep their bullpen stocked.
Now the need for a fresh arm cost outfielder Guillermo Heredia his spot in the majors.
Heredia was optioned to Triple-A on Tuesday as the Rays needed a roster spot to add called up pitcher Jalen Beeks and “didn’t think it made sense” to send down another reliever, especially with Diego Castillo and Andrew Kittredge likely unavailable after working being extended Monday.
“Toughest send down we’ve made all season,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “Really, really challenging. Guillermo is a major-league player and can help us win in many ways. The presence that he has in the clubhouse and in the dugout, even when he’s not playing, has been massive. That stunk. From all the good from (Monday) night, that was really difficult.’’
Heredia, acquired from Seattle with Mike Zunino, made the opening day roster when Matt Duffy was injured, and thus could have been in jeopardy of being sent down anyway with Duffy close to a return.
Heredia played in 57 games, making 35 starts, hitting .227 with two homers, 12 RBIs and a .639 OPS, providing solid defense and depth, serving as the primary backup and right-handed hitting alternative to centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier.
With Heredia gone, Cash said infielders Mike Brosseau could be used in the corner outfield spots and that Avisail Garcia, rather than Tommy Pham or Austin Meadows, would be the likely backup in centerfield.
“Atrocious” is not good
After the Rays had two runners thrown out on the bases Monday and a third saved by a replay reversal, manager Kevin Cash called their baserunning “atrocious” and said it he would be addressed. “We’ve got to get better,’’ he said Tuesday. “I have to do a better job. That’s ultimately what it comes down to. I have to do a better job of communicating and laying things out, scenarios and situations where we’re thinking about them before they happen. I will be much more proactive going forward with that. And hopefully we’ll start seeing some better results.”
Garcia’s heart and hustle
Outfielder Avisail Garcia was named the Rays winner of the Heart and Hustle award, given annually to players who “demonstrate a passion for” and “best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game” by the MLB Players Alumni Association. “It’s great,’’ Garcia said. “I’m happy for that. After surgery last year and people saying I’m not going to be, you know, because of my knee, I just thank God for my health and I’m just trying to do my best. That’s the way I play the game always.’’
About Monday night ...
The amount of voicemails, text messages and gifs on Travis d’Arnaud’s phone after Monday’s three-homer game were a tangible reminder of his star turn in the Rays 5-4 win over the Yankees, highlighted by his three run shot off Aroldis Chapman with two outs in the ninth. ‘It was crazy,’’ he said Tuesday. “I can’t believe it happened.’’ … Among many notable accomplishments, d’Arnaud was the fourth Rays player in history to hit three homers in a game (joining Jonny Gomes, B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria, who did it twice), the first Ray to drive in all five (or more) runs in a win, the first catcher in MLB history (since 1908 at least) to hit three from the leadoff spot and the first catcher to three in a game against the Yankees. … Monday was the first time in franchise history the Rays trailed the Yankees by multiple runs in the ninth inning or later and went on to win, per Stats LLC. … The Yankees had been 49-0 this season when leading after eight innings and the Rays 0-32. .
* Infielder Matt Duffy (left hamstring) is “in a good spot” and “putting pressure” on the Rays to activate him for his season debut, which seems likely this weekend. Cash they want Duffy to play “a couple more games” on rehab then “look for him, if everything keeps going, to join us shortly.”
* Infielder Brandon Lowe (bruised leg) has run and is “going to hit and get on the field” at Trop, but Cash said he has to start doing more baseball activity before they can set a timetable for his return, and whether this weekend is possible.
* ESPN will provide national coverage of Wednesday’s game, with Jon Sciambi and Eduardo Perez on the call. Fox Sports Sun is providing its usual coverage.