Rays’ Randy Arozarena rejoins lineup, Yandy Diaz eyes Friday return

Notes | Two of the key hitters in the Tampa Bay lineup want to get some at-bats to regain their timing ahead of the playoffs.
Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena (56) looks on from the dugout during a game against the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on Sunday.
Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena (56) looks on from the dugout during a game against the Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on Sunday. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Sept. 28|Updated Sept. 28

BOSTON — Leftfielder Randy Arozarena started feeling better a few days after leaving Friday’s Rays game with right quad tightness.

On Monday, on the team’s flight to Boston, he went up to manager Kevin Cash and told him he was ready to go, but Cash said they wanted to be cautious and wait at least another day.

So on Tuesday, Arozarena planted himself next to Cash in the dugout, making his case throughout the game against the Red Sox. That worked. On Wednesday, he was back in the lineup, going 1-for-4 and scoring a run in the Rays’ 5-0 win.

“(Tuesday) was a long game because he (stood) next to me for about eight innings of it,” Cash said. “So that made the decision really easy to get him back in the lineup.”

The Rays are happy to have him and hope that some at-bats in Boston and over the weekend in Toronto get him prepared to play well when they open the playoffs, most likely Tuesday in the wild-card series.

“In all seriousness, this team is much better with Randy on the field. I’m glad that he’s OK,’” Cash said before Wednesday’s game. “We all know what he’s done in the postseason and want to get him timed up as much as possible here with these last four (games) remaining.”

Infielder Yandy Diaz, who left Sunday’s game against the Blue Jays with right hamstring tightness, felt better but not good enough to go Wednesday. He hoped to return Friday at Toronto and play a couple of times over the weekend.

“I was going to be ready to play (Wednesday), but (Tuesday) I didn’t feel too great,” Diaz said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “So we’re going to hopefully go the first game (Friday) in Toronto.”

Diaz, who has dealt with several nagging injuries during the season, said he had tightness in his leg going into Sunday’s game — “the body was just feeling a little heavy,’’ he said — but aggravated it running out a first-inning single.

Diaz, whose .328 average is second in the American League to Texas’ Corey Seager (.332 entering play Wednesday), said he also wants some at-bats before the playoffs.

“When someone doesn’t play for that long, you lose the rhythm of the game itself,” he said. “So playing two or three games will definitely help with that.”

Reliever Robert Stephenson, who had been dealing with a stiff neck since Friday and last pitched Sept. 19, said he was a full go and slated to work an inning Wednesday — he struck out the side in the ninth — and in at least one of the Toronto games.

Pitching plans

Rays right-hander Aaron Civale (34) will start Friday's series opener against the Blue Jays in Toronto.
Rays right-hander Aaron Civale (34) will start Friday's series opener against the Blue Jays in Toronto. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
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Aaron Civale will start Friday’s game, but the Rays aren’t saying much else about their pitching plans as they may will seek to limit looks for Jays hitters since they — as of now — look to be the most likely wild-card series opponent. Plus, the teams just played a three-game series last weekend.

Zach Littell and Taj Bradley would be in line to start Saturday and Sunday, but that could change if the Rays — assuming the AL East race is officially over — decide to go with bullpen-day-type arrangements, or even call up reinforcements from Triple-A Durham.


With two homers on Wednesday, the Rays have 225 for the season, three shy of the franchise record set by the 2017 Rays. ... The 97 wins match the 2008 team, with only the 100-win 2021 team better. ... Josh Lowe hit his 20th homer on Wednesday, joining Arozarena as the only Rays to have at least 20 homers, 30 doubles and 30 steals in the same season. The only other players to do so in the majors this season are the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr., the Mariners’ Julio Rodriguez and the Mets’ Francisco Lindor. ... Pete Fairbanks on Tuesday became the 12th Ray to record at least 25 saves in a season, and the first since Sergio Romo in 2018. … The Rays went 11-3 against the Red Sox this year, the .846 winning percentage their best in 26 seasons.

Contact Marc Topkin at Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

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