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Rays call up Casali from Triple-A Durham

Outfielder Mahtook optioned after Friday's 7-5 win over White Sox

ST. PETERSBURG -- After spending the entire day with the Rays on Friday, catcher Curt Casali has officially been called up.

Casali joined the team Friday afternoon as a member of their "taxi squad," and worked out with the club prior to their 7-5 victory over the White Sox, but was not officially added to the 25-man roster until the Rays optioned outfielder Mikie Mahtook after the ballgame.

"Coming out of Spring Training, it was kind of a heated battle between Curt and [Bobby Wilson]," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Both played well. Both do some things, maybe different things, but they connect with the pitchers really well.

"I think Curt having the experience of being here last year, that helps, just the way he continues to work with pitchers and work on his game to improve. Everybody we've talked to says he's made huge strides defensively, so we're excited to see him."

Casali becomes the backup catcher for the Rays, filling the role of Wilson, who was designated for assignment after the team's 6-2 loss to the Angels on Thursday.

"I'm very good friends with Bobby," Casali said. "I got to know him real well during Spring Training and I like the guy a lot. There's some mixed emotions on my part right now with this, but the main thing is I'm excited to be here and be in the big leagues again."

In 32 games for Triple-A Durham, Casali is batting .205 with four home runs and 13 RBIs, but has recorded seven hits in his last five games (20 at-bats).

"It hasn't gone as scripted," said Casali about his season at Durham. "I'd say my numbers definitely don't reflect the way I feel on the baseball field right now, and that's a battle a lot of players deal with on a day-to-day basis. The callup timeliness is good considering how I feel at the plate right now and how I feel behind it."

Casali admits that the callup did catch him off guard, but he is ready for his second stint in the Major Leagues. In 30 games with the Rays last season, he batted .167 with three RBIs and posted a .996 fielding percentage.

"This is a crazy game and things happen on a day-to-day basis from different aspects, whether it's the front office or injuries," Casali said. "It's been a crazy year for the Rays already, but at the end of the day, I'm glad my name was called and I'm here and ready to help."

Troy Provost-Heron is an associate reporter for
Read More: Tampa Bay Rays, Curt Casali, Bobby Wilson