TORONTO — Junior Caminero has been making a good impression on the Rays since his unexpected Sept. 22 promotion from Double A.
Not that it was needed, but he provided a big reminder during batting practice Saturday when he launched a couple of home runs off the facing of the upper deck in leftfield, and just missed with a few others during a round that had players and fans stopping to watch.
“I like to have a round just to kind of show off a little,” said Caminero, via team interpreter Manny Navarro.
Though the 20-year-old infielder is hitting just .214 (6-for-28) through his first six games, he has shown enough power, plate discipline and ability to make adjustments that he is being considered — quite strongly — for a spot on the 26-man roster for the Wild Card Series that starts Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
Caminero hit leadoff Saturday and played third base, making a slick barehanded play. He also has gotten time at shortstop.
“The reason he’s hitting leadoff is just to get him at-bats and see how quickly we can continue to get him acclimated,” manager Kevin Cash said.
“We’ve got decisions to make. I don’t know how it’s going to go. Generally speaking we’re not in this spot where we’re making decisions kind of on the fly, but we’re at the mercy of some of our injuries so we need to do that.”
Under one scenario, the decision could between Caminero and Osleivis Basabe, who came up in mid-August when Wander Franco was placed on the restricted list and then administrative leave due to investigations of alleged inappropriate relationships with minors. Basabe, hitting .212, can play second base in addition to third and shortstop.
But that decision and others, such as whether to add Francisco Mejia as a third catcher, could be impacted by the status of outfielder Jose Siri and outfielder/DH Luke Raley, who are both recovering from injuries.
Raley sustained a cervical strain Sept. 16 as a result of a freak collision during batting practice. Siri had his right hand fractured when hit by a pitch Sept. 11. Cash said both had done some work and hit foam balls, but the ultimate test will be a live batting practice during Monday’s workout at the Trop.
Rosters are due at 10 a.m. Tuesday, and the Rays could go with 14 or 15 position players and 12 or 11 pitchers for the best-of-three series. Rosters can be re-set each round.
The Rays had to do some extra work to get Caminero into Canada for the weekend, including having scouting coordinator Sydney Malone fly to New York to help with processing of his work visa. Minor-league operations coordinator Jeremy Sanders also played a role, and physical therapist Wilson Diez traveled with Caminero to Boston a day ahead of the team to get the process started.
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The Rays appreciated the good work Erasmo Ramirez did for them after being called up July 30, and they told him so before designating him for assignment Saturday to add a fresh arm. Cooper Criswell was called up to cover three innings against Toronto, and he may be replaced with another pitcher Sunday. Ramirez, 33, signed a minor-league contract in mid-June to rejoin the Rays following his release by the Nationals and covered 33 1/3 innings over 15 games.
Isaac Paredes picked up his 98th RBI with a first-inning single; he is seeking to become the fifth Ray with a 30-homer, 100-RBI season. ... Yandy Diaz stuck out as a pinch-hitter, lowering his average to .3295, in his pursuit of the AL batting title. Texas’ Corey Seager went into his late Saturday game hitting .3312. ... The game time for Tuesday’s Wild Card Series opener should be announced Sunday; the ESPN TV crew calling the game will be Sean McDonough, Jessica Mendoza and Tim Kurkjian.
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