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Casali, 2 relievers called up as rosters expand

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The Rays' first three September callups had a smooth flight back to a Major League clubhouse Friday against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Or at least one of them did.

The Rays officially recalled catcher Curt Casali, left-hander Adam Kolarek and right-hander Ryne Stanek from Triple-A Durham to their Major League roster Friday, with the trio arriving in Chicago on Thursday at approximately 1 p.m. With the flight being fairly last-minute, only Casali got a first-class ticket, one-upping Kolarek and Stanek by saying he had more service time than the relievers.

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CHICAGO -- The Rays' first three September callups had a smooth flight back to a Major League clubhouse Friday against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Or at least one of them did.

The Rays officially recalled catcher Curt Casali, left-hander Adam Kolarek and right-hander Ryne Stanek from Triple-A Durham to their Major League roster Friday, with the trio arriving in Chicago on Thursday at approximately 1 p.m. With the flight being fairly last-minute, only Casali got a first-class ticket, one-upping Kolarek and Stanek by saying he had more service time than the relievers.

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"That might have been the 'show time,'" Casali said. "They took care of me, and I'm thankful that my first flight of the year was a first-class ticket."

"Curt ended up with a first-class seat, and since it was a super full flight and kind of last-minute, me and Kolarek sat in the back," Stanek added. "[Curt] very much 'show timed' us."

While Kolarek and Stanek will be starting their second and third stints, respectively, with the Major League club this season, this is Casali's first callup in 2017. The 28-year-old backstop appeared in 152 games with the Rays from 2014-16, but offensive struggles in '16 -- a .186 batting average and a .609 OPS in 84 games -- and the additions of Wilson Ramos and Jesus Sucre forced him to the Minors.

Casali has showed improved form with consistent at-bats in Durham, hitting .263 with a .351 on-base percentage in 85 games, and hopes to make his mark for the contending Rays.

"I was in a rut all year last year offensively," Casali said. "The consistent at-bats really helped down in Triple-A. My mind was at ease. I felt good about what I did down there, and hopefully it translates up here."

Video: MIN@TB: Casali hits a two-run homer in the 2nd

Kolarek posted a 5.87 ERA in 11 games during a month-long stint from June 28-July 29 with the Rays and was dominant with a 1.65 ERA in 41 Triple-A appearances. Kolarek said his stint in the Majors has forced him to develop his changeup and offspeed pitches instead of being so reliant on his sinker.

"It wasn't like I was upset when I went down, because I almost had like a new mission," Kolarek said. "I had some experience, and I was able to take what I learned here and now attack hitters. Prior, I would just throw sinkers and did enough that way to get an out. Now I know what it takes to get big league hitters out."

Video: TB@PIT: Kolarek whiffs Mercer for first MLB strikeout

Stanek, the Rays' No. 21 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, has made 13 appearances between two stints with the Rays this season, posting a 6.39 ERA before being sent down most recently on Aug. 9. He's been dominant in Durham, recording eight saves and a 1.21 ERA over 37 appearances with a 60-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a level of form they're hoping translates to the Majors this time.

"Ryne Stanek has done some special things in Triple-A this year," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We've just got to get him to get over that hump and find a way to do it at the big league level. Hopefully he's coming in pretty confident, because what he's done is pretty impressive."

Video: OAK@TB: Stanek fans Olson to K the side

Cash said the Rays, who are now carrying 28 players, aren't done yet with their September callups.

"I think it's fair to say that we're going to have another wave come through here in probably the next couple days," Cash said. "There could be multiple guys still continuing to come. We'll continue to talk through it."

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago who covered the Rays on Friday.

Tampa Bay Rays, Curt Casali, Adam Kolarek, Ryne Stanek