Each major-league club has a nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which goes to the player who shows extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, on and off the field.
The Rays have two nominees — sort of.
Left-hander Ryan Yarbrough is the Rays’ official nominee, but designated hitter Nelson Cruz, acquired July 22, will represent the Twins.
“It’s a big deal,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We really appreciate what they’re doing in the community. Nelson is nominated by the Twins, but we saw his impact here pretty quickly. Yarbs, in season or in the offseason, really pours himself into the community. It’s a tremendous honor to be nominated.”
Yarbrough and wife Nicole had numerous community projects during the COVID-19 pandemic. They donated school supplies, hygiene products and uniforms to Campbell Park Elementary, and partnered with Buddy Brew Coffee to deliver coffee and pastries to the St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital critical care unit. Yarbrough was the top reader in the “Reading with the Rays” program and held a 12-day holiday giveaway on Instagram, giving prizes (like signed baseballs) to fans who submitted the top response to the day’s question.
“Both of our (sets of) parents, I feel, instilled that in us, to just help people in need,” Yarbrough said. “We’re going to try and do more and more as I’m able to keep playing.
“I’m extremely honored. Honestly, it kind of caught me off-guard because … it just felt like something that we wanted to do just to be a part of the community and help out in any way possible. It’s not something that you’re just looking for (being nominated for an award) like it’s the reason you do these things, but it’s definitely a privilege.”
Fans can vote on the award at MLB.com. The fan total will count as one vote among those cast by a blue-ribbon panel who will select the league-wide winner. There were 18 first-time nominees, including Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (Plant High) and Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (Lakewood High).
Rays leftfielder Austin Meadows needs one RBI to become the sixth player in franchise history to achieve 100 in a single season (along with Carlos Pena, Jorge Cantu, Evan Longoria, Aubrey Huff and Fred McGriff). Pena did it three times (with a franchise-best 121 in 2007). Longoria, Huff and McGriff achieved it twice.
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“Austin has done so many good things at the plate,” Cash said. “He has put his name up there with some really good hitters in the American League.”
Meadows got to 99 RBIs on Monday night with his 25th home run, a ninth-inning shot that put the Rays on the board in an 8-1 defeat.
“It’s definitely surreal,” Meadows said. “As a kid, you’re watching guys with 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBIs. You look up to those guys. To be in that realm is surreal and it’s a blessing.”
Wednesday afternoon, the Rays finish a three-city, nine-game road trip with the series finale against the Blue Jays. After a long journey, nothing feels better than a getaway day victory.
“Our motto on getaway day is, ‘Have a happy flight,’ ” Rays right-hander Michael Wacha said. “On the travel days, let’s win and have a happy flight, travel back in good spirits and head into a little homestand. That’s definitely the plan.”
“Winning certainly would provide a boost,” Cash said. “I’m sure the guys are excited to get home to play in front of our fans.”
Right-handers Shawn Armstrong and David Hess, both recently designated for assignment, cleared waivers and accepted outright assignments to Triple-A Durham. … The Rays avoided their first three-game losing streak since July 25-28. … The Rays have 90 victories for the eighth time (all in the last 14 seasons). … With 17 games remaining, the Rays need to go 8-9 to set a franchise record for wins (98). If they go 10-7, it’s 100 victories. … The Rays have scored an MLB-leading 778 runs. Toronto is second with 765. … The Rays have 201 homers. The club record is 228 (2017). … The Rays are 9-6 against the Blue Jays this season, including 6-3 on the road (in three locations — Dunedin, Buffalo and Toronto).
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