MINNEAPOLIS — With Jose Siri on the 10-day injured list due to a broken right hand and likely to miss at least the rest of the regular season, the Rays turned to Luke Raley to patrol centerfield on Tuesday.
A left-handed hitter, Raley seems the most likely option as of now to replace Siri, who plays elite-level defense, has game-changing speed and is second on the team with 25 home runs, though manager Kevin Cash said Josh Lowe — another lefty — and even Randy Arozarena could also get some opportunities.
Manuel Margot will be another option, assuming he gets through his planned six-day rehab assignment at Triple-A Durham, having had bone chips removed from his right elbow Aug. 16.
“We’ll probably mix and match with those guys out there and see how it goes,” Cash said. “We know it’s going to be a big loss. Jose brings a lot of really good defense in centerfield, lines us up a little bit better and offensively the things (he does) with the power, but we’ll find a way to work around that.”
Raley, who started in center the seven previous times Siri was out of the lineup, said he was ready for the challenge.
“You’ve just got to go out there and do it,” Raley said. “I’m comfortable in all three outfield positions, so I’m going to go out there and do the best I can. I obviously don’t have Siri’s speed, so he runs some balls down that I’m not going to be able to get to. But I’m going to go out there and do the best I can, get good jumps and run as much as I can down.”
With Margot and Siri out, the only other rostered outfield options are Harold Ramirez, who doesn’t cover a lot of ground; and versatile reserve Vidal Brujan, who could be more available for outfield duty as infielder Curtis Mead was called up to take Siri’s spot on the roster.
The Rays do have two veteran outfielders with big-league experience recently added to their minor-league system. Raimel Tapia, a 29-year-old lefty, is hitting .269 in 29 games at Triple-A Durham. Billy Hamilton, a 33-year-old switch-hitter, recently was moved to Durham after working at Class A Bowling Green to get back into game form.
Siri, who was hit on the bottom of the right hand by a pitch Monday, had additional imaging Tuesday morning that confirmed the fracture was small and non-displaced, which gives the Rays hope for a quick return. “Pretty clean break, hopefully it kind of stays in place,” Cash said.
Siri, second on the team with 25 homers, was sent back to Florida to see team hand specialist Dr. Doug Carlan on Wednesday.
Mead excited to be back
Mead welcomed a return to the big leagues, having hit .250 over 11 games during a three-week August callup playing third base and designated hitter, and is slated to start at third base against lefties (such as Minnesota’s Dallas Keuchel on Wednesday) and pinch-hit.
In 15 games after being sent back to Durham, Mead hit .305 with six homers, 17 RBIs and a 1.117 OPS, addressing his goals of hitting off-speed pitches more and driving the ball better. He also played second base.
“To be able to go down and play pretty good, pretty quick was cool,” he said. “Obviously unfortunate situation with Siri, but really excited to be back.”
Mead, a right-handed hitter, also could provide infield depth as shortstop Taylor Walls could have to leave the team this week as his wife is expected to soon give birth to their second child, a son.
Diaz’s drive for five
Yandy Diaz had two chances to make two different kinds of Rays history on Monday after rapping two singles, a double and a home run in his first four times up.
With any hit in either of his final two at-bats, he would have tied the team record for five in a game, done 10 times, most recently by Tommy Pham on Sept. 29, 2019. It also was accomplished by Tim Beckham, Mikie Mahtook, Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist, Jeff Keppinger, B.J. Upton, Tomas Perez, Carl Crawford and Julio Lugo.
With a triple, Diaz would have been only the third Ray in 26 seasons to hit for the cycle, joining Evan Longoria (Aug. 1, 2017) and Upton (Oct. 2, 2009).
Diaz, who has only five career triples, said the cycle was much less likely.
“I would have just gotten a hit,” he said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “I’m not a guy that gets triples. It’s not something I do. So, it would have been nice just to get the hit.”
But he did allow that if he hit a ball in the gap, he would have tried for three. “If I would have hit a ball up the middle somewhere I probably would have just kept on going and see what happens,” he said.
Isaac Paredes returned to the lineup and went 1-for-4 Tuesday, having been out since being hit by a pitch on the right hand and leaving Saturday’s game. ... First-pitch temperature was 63 degrees and dropped into the 50s during the game. .... Rookie Taj Bradley starts Wednesday’s matinee series finale, saying he felt good about the way he worked into the seventh in his last start after giving up some early runs.... The Rays had another near-miss at an immaculate inning Monday. Tyler Glasnow had two strikeouts and an 0-2 count on Royce Lewis after eight pitches in the first inning, but he missed with a curveball before striking out Lewis with his 10th pitch. …. Brujan made the decision to drop a bunt with runners on third and first in the sixth inning Monday and got a run in as the Twins took the force out at second base. “Heads-up play by Bru,” Cash said. ... The Rays are seeking to become the first team since the 1995 Indians and fifth overall to lead the American League in homers and stolen bases. Through Tuesday they are first in steals (154) and tied for the lead for homers with the Angels (209).
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