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Rays on wrong end of ‘catch of the year’

Notes | Two relievers won’t be joining the team in Toronto because of the vaccine requirement.
Rays reliever Ryan Thompson is one of two players who won't be traveling with the team to Toronto because of Canada's vaccine mandate.
Rays reliever Ryan Thompson is one of two players who won't be traveling with the team to Toronto because of Canada's vaccine mandate. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Jun. 29|Updated Jun. 30

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays were on the wrong end of one of the best plays of the season in Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Brewers.

In the bottom of the second inning, Randy Arozarena blasted a pitch to deep centerfield. Milwaukee’s Jonathan Davis sprinted after it and made a full-extension diving grab. His head slammed into the wall, sending his hat flying, but Davis somehow held onto the ball.

“That’s got to be the catch of the year,” Rays shortstop Taylor Walls said. “I don’t see how anything can top that.”

A medical cart was brought out for Davis, who took several minutes to collect himself. He remained in the game but left an inning later with discomfort in his lower back and rib cage but was fine otherwise.

The game had another long injury pause in the eighth when home plate umpire David Rackley took a foul ball off the mask. He left, and Ryan Wills moved from first base to take Rackley’s spot.

Raley, Thompson out for Toronto

Relievers Brooks Raley and Ryan Thompson won’t be traveling to Toronto because of Canada’s vaccine mandate. MLB rules allow teams to replace players on the restricted list, but the Rays did not announce corresponding moves Wednesday.

Raley, a left-hander, struck out two batters in two scoreless innings Wednesday. Thompson, a right-hander, struck out two and walked one over his two scoreless innings.

An unusual position for Bruján

Of his 36 starts this season, Vidal Bruján has slotted into the lineup at second base or shortstop for 27 of them. Though he has started eight in rightfield, he started in center Wednesday for the first time since July 17, 2021 against Atlanta.

With the Brewers starting left-hander Eric Lauer, manager Kevin Cash said he wanted to give his left-handed hitters off and insert Bruján instead.

“His range is going to allow him to always be a good defensive player, whether he’s playing short, second or center,” Cash said. “I know this is a challenge for him, but I think he’s pretty excited to do it.”

Bruján practiced in the outfield before Tuesday’s game to help prepare for the move. He said he also has talked a lot with Kevin Kiermaier about how to get ready for the position on Tropicana Field’s turf.

Bruján finished the game at second base, with Josh Lowe coming off the bench to play centerfield.

Medical matters

Ji-Man Choi returned to the Rays’ lineup after missing Tuesday’s game due to left ankle discomfort. He started at first base and finished 0-for-3 with a walk.

Drew Rasmussen (left hamstring) is expected to return to the rotation later this week, but Cash did not have an update on the right-hander’s next start.

Miscellany

At exactly four hours, it was the longest game at Tropicana Field since May 9, 2014 against Cleveland.

Arozarena stole two more bases, giving him 17 for the season. He also became the first Ray with at least two stolen bases in back-to-back games since B.J. Upton in May 2012.

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Thursday’s game will be televised on YouTube.

Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.

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