Rays to call up Olympic medalist Robertson

Tampa Bay recognizes Childhood Cancer Awareness Day; players hold charity auction

September 1st, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG -- David Robertson is plenty familiar with the Tampa Bay area, having lived in St. Petersburg in the offseason during his nine seasons with the Yankees. He’s no stranger to postseason baseball, having pitched in 30 playoff games for the Yanks and winning a World Series ring in 2009. And he knows quite a bit about the Rays, too, describing them as the “toughest, scrappiest team that we ever played against.”

So when Robertson was looking for a place to continue his career after pitching for Team USA in the Olympics, he jumped at the opportunity to sign with the Rays. After signing a Major League deal on Aug. 16, the veteran reliever will officially join Tampa Bay’s bullpen on Wednesday as one of the club’s September call-ups.

After spending the last two weeks with Triple-A Durham, Robertson arrived at Tropicana Field on Tuesday afternoon as part of the Rays’ taxi squad before being activated when rosters expand from 26 to 28 players on Wednesday.

“It's a great opportunity. I've always enjoyed playing against the Rays,” the 36-year-old right-hander said. “Now I'm on the other side of it, so I'm excited to be a part of that team and see what happens from here.”

Robertson hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2019, his 12th big league season, when he made seven appearances for the Phillies before undergoing Tommy John surgery. Before that, he was a lights-out high-leverage arm for the Yankees and White Sox, recording a 2.88 ERA with 874 strikeouts in 657 innings from 2008-18.

Now, he will bring another proven, playoff-tested arm to a bullpen that recently welcomed back right-handers J.P. Feyereisen and Pete Fairbanks from the injured list.

“He's got as much experience as anybody on our team, so I think that'll help,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash, who caught Robertson with the Yankees in 2009. “When he's healthy, he's shown and proven that he's been just a very, very good reliever in whatever role. Whether it's closing, whether it's setup, just coming in to get a guy out and go back out, he'll do everything.”

Robertson looked ready for another shot in the Majors as he helped Team USA win a silver medal in Tokyo, and he made a new friend in Olympic Village roommate/Rays top prospect Shane Baz -- “the real deal,” as Robertson put it. And he breezed through six appearances with Triple-A Durham, giving up four hits and a walk while striking out 12 of the 22 batters he faced in his six innings of work.

When Cash asked Feyereisen how Robertson looked in Durham, Feyereisen replied, “He looked like a 12-year big leaguer pitching down there.”

“I love playing in the postseason. I'm hoping to be a part of it, and I'm just going to let things play out and see where I fit in,” Robertson said. “I feel healthy, and I'm ready to go.”

Robertson will wear No. 30 for Tampa Bay, assuming the number currently owned by first-base coach Ozzie Timmons. (“I’m going to hook Mr. Timmons up,” Robertson assured reporters.) The Rays hadn’t decided as of Tuesday afternoon who would fill the other spot on their expanded September roster; their options include pitchers such as rehabbing reliever Matt Wisler or position players like Taylor Walls and Mike Brosseau.

Feyereisen, Rays to recognize Childhood Cancer Awareness Day
On Wednesday, the Rays will invite doctors and staff from the Moffitt Cancer Center to their game against the Red Sox, hosting them in a suite at Tropicana Field and recognizing their work during the game, on MLB’s sixth annual Childhood Cancer Awareness Day.

As part of the day, held during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in collaboration with Stand Up to Cancer, all on-field personnel will wear gold ribbon decals and wristbands during Wednesday’s game.

Feyereisen will continue to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer treatment all month, too, as he’s teamed up with the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation's "Vs. Cancer program" to “strike out” pediatric brain cancer. Feyereisen will make a donation for every strikeout he records in September and has asked fans to do the same or make a one-time donation.

“Hopefully, I can punch some guys out,” Feyereisen said Monday. “I feel like this is a cool opportunity to bring awareness to them and hopefully help them out.

Rays’ ‘Favorite Things’ up for charity auction
Brandon Lowe, Drew Rasmussen, Michael Wacha, Ryan Yarbrough, Mike Zunino, Andrew Kittredge, Wisler and their significant others have created a “Favorite Things” basket, filled with autographed memorabilia and other items, for each player. Those baskets are up for auction through Sept. 9, with all proceeds benefitting the Rays Baseball Foundation, at raysbaseball.com/auctions.