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Wong on callup: 'Oh my God, I’m a big leaguer'

Alvarado transferred to 60-day injured list
@juanctoribio
September 5, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- After being one of the most productive players in the Rays’ Minor League system over the past three seasons, infielder Kean Wong will finally get his chance to make an impact at the big league level. Before Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays, the Rays selected Wong’s

ST. PETERSBURG -- After being one of the most productive players in the Rays’ Minor League system over the past three seasons, infielder Kean Wong will finally get his chance to make an impact at the big league level.

Before Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays, the Rays selected Wong’s contract from Triple-A Durham. In order to make room on the 40-man roster, Tampa Bay transferred José Alvarado to the 60-day injured list, ending the left-hander’s season.

“He’s a guy we’ve known pretty well for the last couple of years,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “He’s been around Spring Training to the very end. He’s done some really good things over the last two or three years in Triple-A. I think he deserves to be here.”

Wong learned of the news after Triple-A Durham’s playoff win on Wednesday. Triple-A manager Brady Williams pretended he was upset after the game, which confused Wong, but then delivered the news to him and his teammates in the clubhouse.

“I was like, ‘Why are you mad? We won,’” Wong said. “It was a dream come true for me, and I’m blessed.”

In 113 games with Durham this season, Wong has career highs in home runs (10) and OPS (.839). Wearing No. 31, Wong hit 8th and played second base in his debut Thursday. He went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts before getting lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth.

Wong said he never doubted that he’d eventually be a big leaguer, but he was slightly surprised that it came with the Rays after the team decided not to call him up over the last couple of seasons.

The news, however, didn’t set in for Wong until he stepped inside the Rays' clubhouse on Thursday.

“Honestly, I was good until I came into the clubhouse and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m a big leaguer,’” Wong said. “But before that, I was just calling my family and like I said, I just feel blessed.”

One of the phone calls went to his brother, Cardinals infielder Kolten Wong.

“He was happy,” Kean Wong said. “That’s what I was striving for ever since I was a little kid, and just to see my dreams come true, he was happy for me.”

Adding Wong to the roster gives the Rays another versatile left-handed-hitting infielder, joining Joey Wendle and Eric Sogard. The Rays also have Matt Duffy and Daniel Robertson on the roster, giving the team plenty of options. Michael Brosseau is another player who is expected to contribute once he’s eligible to be called up on Saturday.

“We’ll primary use him [at] second and third base,” Cash said of Wong. “He’s a good hitter. We’ve seen him during Spring Training. He really does a good job staying on the ball. … Just a baseball player.”

Alvarado’s season was a disappointing one. He had been penciled in as the primary closer when the year began, but inconsistencies with strike-throwing, a lengthy absence to attend a family matter in Venezuela and multiple injuries ultimately derailed his season.

He was placed on the 10-day injured list on August 25 with left elbow inflammation, and the injury didn’t progress as the Rays had hoped. Because of that, the left-hander wouldn’t have been available for the remainder of the season, causing the Rays to make the decision to transfer him to the 60-day IL.

Alvarado finished the season at 1-6 with a 4.80 ERA in just 35 appearances.

“I think we ran out of time. It’s unfortunate,” Cash said. “Went and got checked out again by the doctor, tried to play catch, but it’s just not coming around. Even if he started playing catch tomorrow, I don’t know if we had enough time in the season to get him built back up.”

Injury updates

• After throwing 33 pitches in a rehab outing with Triple-A Durham on Monday, Tyler Glasnow (mild right forearm strain) threw a side session on Thursday. Cash said they’re still unsure if Glasnow will pitch a second rehab outing with Durham, or return to the big league club.

Blake Snell (loose bodies in left elbow) threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session on Wednesday, which came back positive. Snell threw fastballs, curveballs and changeups during the session. He will head to Durham on Saturday for his first rehab outing. He’s scheduled to pitch one inning, or 20 pitches.

Yonny Chirinos (middle finger inflammation) threw 20 pitches in a bullpen session on Thursday. There’s still no set timetable for his return.

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