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Rays shake up roster before homestand against Mets, White Sox, Yankees

Rays shake up roster before homestand against Mets, White Sox, Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG — Looking for something to stop their downward spiral, the Rays shook up their roster a bit Friday afternoon before starting their weekend series against the Mets.

Tampa Bay called up catcher Alex Jackson from Triple-A Durham and activated outfielder Jonny DeLuca from the injured list.

The moves paid off almost immediately, as both players contributed to a 10-8 win Friday night at Tropicana Field. DeLuca singled and drove in three runs, and Jackson hit a sacrifice fly.

“DeLuca was coming in swinging a hot bat,” manager Kevin Cash said. “A.J. has been swinging a hot bat the entire time. He just missed hitting the ball out.

“DeLuca coming up in the first at-bat (an RBI groundout in the second inning), just to make sure that we capitalize and got one run across, that’s important. And then he came up with the big two-out single (in the third) to score two more. Very big.”

Rene Pinto, who opened the season as the starting catcher, and utility player Niko Goodrum were optioned to Durham. To create room on the 40-man roster, right-hander Colby White was designated for assignment.

Though Pinto is known as a defense-first catcher, the pitching staff had a 4.84 ERA with him behind the plate this season. He was hitting just .214 with two home runs in 19 games.

Ben Rortvedt, acquired from the Yankees the day before the season opener, not only has been solid behind the plate (4.40 catcher’s ERA), he entered Friday batting .333 with three doubles and seven RBIs in 21 games.

Jackson was hitting .282 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in 22 games at Durham at the time of his call-up. He impressed Cash with how he handled the staff in the spring.

DeLuca, acquired along with Ryan Pepiot from the Dodgers in the trade that sent Tyler Glasnow to Los Angeles, fractured his right hand during the exhibition trip to the Dominican Republic in March.

Even before he could pick up a bat, DeLuca was able to continue standing in the cage and tracking pitches, allowing him to get back sooner.

“That helped probably even more than taking swings,” DeLuca said. “Just getting my eyes ready.”

Tied at the top

With the win, Kevin Cash now has 754 wins as Rays manager, tying him with Joe Maddon for most in franchise istory.

“We all know the impact (Maddon) had and what he stood for in this organization, really being a big part of turning things in the right direction,” Cash said. “It’s an honor, and I am very appreciative.”

On the mend

Closer Pete Fairbanks (nerve-related issue) and second baseman Brandon Lowe (oblique) are expected to begin rehab assignments at Durham on Tuesday, Cash said.

Right-hander Taj Bradley threw six innings in his rehab start for Triple-A Durham Friday. He allowed one run on two hits and two walks, striking out eight.

“Then we’ll kind of revisit where he gets the next start,” Cash said. “The first one in Durham was really good.”

Outfielder Josh Lowe (oblique/hamstring) was expected to continue his rehab assignment Friday. Infielder Jonathan Aranda (fractured finger) will ramp up his at-bats in his.

“(Aranda) was having such a good spring for us,” Cash said. “I want to make sure he’s timed up at the plate as much as possible.”

Reliever Chris Devenski (knee tendinitis) will keep his arm going and progress to the mound as his knee allows.

Among the players on long-term rehab schedules, right-hander Shane Baz (Tommy John surgery) is expected to pitch four innings in a rehab game Saturday at Durham. Right-hander Drew Rasmussen (elbow surgery) is hoping to throw a side session in the next two weeks. Left-hander Jeffrey Springs (Tommy John) is scheduled to pitch in an extended spring training game on May 20. Shane McClanahan (Tommy John) is throwing at 90 feet and “progressing well.”

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