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Heredia 'toughest send-down' for Rays this year

With bullpen depleted, outfielder optioned to make room for lefty Beeks
@juanctoribio
July 16, 2019

NEW YORK -- Before Tuesday night’s game against the Yankees, the Rays recalled left-hander Jalen Beeks to serve as their primary “bulk” guy for that game behind Ryne Stanek. To make room for Beeks on the active roster, the Rays made the tough, and surprising, decision to option outfielder Guillermo

NEW YORK -- Before Tuesday night’s game against the Yankees, the Rays recalled left-hander Jalen Beeks to serve as their primary “bulk” guy for that game behind Ryne Stanek. To make room for Beeks on the active roster, the Rays made the tough, and surprising, decision to option outfielder Guillermo Heredia to Triple-A Durham.

“Toughest send-down we’ve made all season,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “Really, really challenging. Guillermo is a Major League player and can help us win in many ways. The presence that he has in the clubhouse and in the dugout, even when he’s not playing, has been massive. That stunk. From all the good from last night, that was really difficult.”

Heredia is hitting .227 with two home runs this season and has served as the primary backup center fielder behind Kevin Kiermaier. In his absence, which the Rays don’t expect will be a long one if all goes well, Avisail Garcia is expected to slide over to center field whenever Kiermaier needs a day off.

The decision to send down Heredia instead of a pitcher was due to the heavy workload of the Rays’ bullpen in Monday’s 5-4 win over the Yankees, especially their right-handed relievers. Diego Castillo, Andrew Kittredge, Emilio Pagan and Oliver Drake all entered the game, likely leaving Castillo and Kittredge unavailable on Tuesday.

“With Diego’s workload and Kittredge’s workload, we didn’t think it made sense to send down another pitcher,” Cash said. “We needed to keep as much coverage and depth as we can have.”

As for Beeks, the left-hander made three starts with Triple-A Durham over the last couple of weeks and posted a 4.22 ERA in 10 2/3 innings.

“Jalen has done some good things,” Cash said. “He’ll be challenged here today, but we like the progress he’s making. When he comes into the game, he [needs to] be locked in and ready to go. Lot of times, it takes him 15-20 pitches to get him locked in, but this offense will not allow you that luxury. Get him locked in and give us a good opportunity to win.”

d’Arnaud’s special night

Nearly 24 hours later, Travis d'Arnaud still couldn’t believe that he connected on three home runs at Yankee Stadium to carry the Rays to Monday’s much-needed win. The 30-year-old catcher said he received a lot of text and voice messages, enough to nearly force his phone to freeze.

“Once the game was over all the way up until this morning, I’m still thinking how crazy that game was, especially to lose the lead like that, and they took over the game,” d’Arnaud said before Tuesday’s game. “Then to come back and hit that one in the ninth, I’m still on cloud nine.”

Some other interesting numbers about d’Arnaud’s historic performance:

• He became the second player in club history with three home runs out of the leadoff spot, joining B.J. Upton in 2012.

• He became the first catcher in Major League history with a three-homer game out of the leadoff spot.

• He was the second leadoff hitter to account for all of his team’s runs in a three-homer game since 1908, joining former teammate Jose Reyes (Aug. 15, 2006).

“I heard a couple,” d’Arnaud said, when asked about the milestones. “That’s pretty cool. It was crazy. I can’t believe it happened.”

Injury updates

Brandon Lowe (right shin contusion) ran on Tuesday in St. Petersburg and didn’t feel “anything really that bad,” according to Cash. The 2019 All-Star has been sidelined since July 3 after fouling consecutive pitches off the shin.

Lowe is not currently with the team, which still doesn’t know when it will get the infielder back in its lineup.

“He’s doing OK; he’s going to hit and get on the field,” Cash said. “We just have to get him baseball activity now. It’s been a while.”

As for Matt Duffy, the third baseman played all nine innings at Triple-A Durham on Monday, going 0-for-3 at the plate. Duffy was off on Tuesday, but it appears he could be close to rejoining the team after missing the entire season so far with left hamstring tightness.

“Talked to him today, and he’s in a really good spot,” Cash said. “He’s champing at the bit. … He wants to be playing tonight for us, which is a good thing. It’s nice to see him get to that spot, and now we know that he’s getting closer. I expressed to him to get a couple more games in, and we’ll see how it plays out, but look for him, if everything keeps going [well], to join us shortly.”

Garcia wins Heart and Hustle Award

Garcia is the Rays’ winner of the 2019 Heart and Hustle Award, which is given to the player on each team that “best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game.” The award is voted on by former players.

“I’m happy for that,” Garcia said. “Last year [was difficult] because of my knee. I just thank God for my health and am just trying to do my best. That’s the way I play the game, always.”

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.