Rays’ Tristan Gray enjoys a day he wanted to last forever

Notes | After debuting on Saturday, the 27-year-old rookie picks up his first major-league hit, then adds a go-ahead homer Sunday vs. the Orioles.
The Rays' Tristan Gray reacts after hitting his first career home run in the eighth inning of Sunday's game in Baltimore.
The Rays' Tristan Gray reacts after hitting his first career home run in the eighth inning of Sunday's game in Baltimore. [ JULIO CORTEZ | AP ]
Published Sept. 18

BALTIMORE — Tristan Gray thought Saturday was pretty amazing, when he was awakened in Durham by Triple-A manager Michael Johns and ended the day as a late-inning sub in his first big-league game.

Then came Sunday, when the 27-year-old infielder was in the starting lineup for arguably the Rays’ biggest game of the season so far, rapped his first hit, then hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning.

“I don’t even know how to describe it,” Gray said. “I couldn’t tell you anything about running around the bases. But the one thing I did see, that I do remember, is just everybody in the dugout, absolutely losing it. So that’s something that I’ll never forget, for sure.”

Gray’s parents and grandmother had hopped on a flight from Houston to make it to Baltimore for his debut, and a dozen other relatives and friends were in the stands Sunday.

“That was a pretty special moment,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Super pumped for him. The journey (through the minors) and all that, and then to come up and hit the home run in the moment — that could have been one of the biggest hits of the year for us.”

Though the Rays ended up losing the game to the Orioles in 11 innings, Gray — who said he’ll need Monday’s off day to answer all the congratulatory text messages he received — was still understandably excited.

“I’m going to try and make this day last as long as possible,” he said. “Selfishly, but yeah, it was great.”

Gray was called up when infielder Taylor Walls was placed on the paternity list as he returned to St. Petersburg to be with his wife for the birth of their son, which happened Sunday. Walls could rejoin the team Tuesday, which could send Gray back to Triple-A.

Raley feeling better

Luke Raley said he passed concussion testing and felt “a lot better” by Sunday but was still sidelined by a stiff neck a day after a freak accident during batting practice.

Raley and Manny Navarro, the Spanish-language interpreter who also helps the hitting coaches, were running for a fly ball and collided, with the 6-foot-4 Raley flipping over the much-smaller Navarro and landing on his head.

“The collision wasn’t really the issue,” Raley said, “it was just how I came down.”

Raley, who was shagging balls to get used to the sun in rightfield, took the blame.

“I went after a ball that normally in BP I wouldn’t go after. … I wanted to work on some balls that could possibly go in the sun, so I was going over towards centerfield,” he said. “I was really focused on the ball and didn’t see anybody, and it’s partially my own fault, not calling it. Just a freak thing.”

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Raley said he was confident he would be 100% and ready to play against the Angels on Tuesday.

Not-so-minor matters

Class A Charleston (S.C.) opened the best-of-three Carolina League championship series on Sunday with a 4-2 win over Down East (Rangers). …. Double-A Montgomery will open the Southern League best-of-three division playoffs on Tuesday against Pensacola (Marlins) after clinching the South Division second half title on Saturday. This is the eighth straight year the Biscuits have been in the playoffs.


The Rays, who went 10-7 during a stretch of games on 17 straight days, now have three days (including Monday) off over a span of 11 as they play their final 11 regular-season games. …. Brandon Lowe’s homer was his 21st of the season and 105th of his career, moving him past Carl Crawford into sixth place on the franchise’s all-time list. ... Rookie Taj Bradley will start Tuesday against the Angels.

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