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Bunting summit: Kiermaier, Smith discuss

Rays looking forward to getting new acquisition Diaz 'into the mix'
MLB.com @wwchastain

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kevin Kiermaier could be overheard talking with new Rays outfielder Mallex Smith several days ago. The topic of conversation was bunting.

Kiermaier likes to use his speed by dropping down an occasional bunt to keep the defense honest. Smith has shown to be a tireless worker this spring at trying to perfect bunting.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kevin Kiermaier could be overheard talking with new Rays outfielder Mallex Smith several days ago. The topic of conversation was bunting.

Kiermaier likes to use his speed by dropping down an occasional bunt to keep the defense honest. Smith has shown to be a tireless worker this spring at trying to perfect bunting.

View Full Game Coverage

Kiermaier offered insight into the conversation that continues to take place between the two outfielders.

"I'm picking his brain a little bit," Kiermaier said. "I think bunting is a lot more from a consistent standpoint, his game. But for me, I just like seeing how he likes doing certain things. He's asked me a few questions here and there. But you just kind of see what different guys do and what their thought process is and see if you can instill that in your game any way possible. He's put down some impressive bunts so far. He'll do that during the season as well."

Jumbo acquisition

On Friday, the Rays claimed right-hander Jumbo Diaz off waivers from the Reds.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rays transferred right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the 60-day disabled list.

"I think there was some interest in him in the past in trade, and I wasn't surprised it was Tampa that took him," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I think they're very aware that they are getting a big arm and getting a really good human being.

"They're not taking on somebody else's problem child. They're taking on a really good, hard-working pitcher who has plenty of arm left. I will be pulling for him to make the ballclub and hope to see him during the season."

Video: CHC@CIN: Diaz fans Federowicz, finishes two scoreless

Diaz went 1-1 with a 3.14 ERA in 45 appearances last season. He is 3-3 with a 3.65 ERA in 142 Major League appearances, all coming with the Reds in three seasons. He is currently pitching for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

Said Rays manager Kevin Cash about the newest acquisition: "He's a guy that we've talked about over the last year or so. He's pitched well against us at times in the Minor Leagues. Big fastball, big slider. Obviously, our looks might be limited with him, simply because he's pitching in the [World Baseball Classic]. But we'll have some scouts over there watching when he gets to pitch. But when that day comes, we'll welcome him here and get him into the mix."

Pur-d'oh!

Kiermaier is a huge Purdue basketball fan, so the Boilermakers' loss to the Michigan Wolverines in the Big Ten Tournament on Friday didn't sit well.

"Purdue was on at noon," Kiermaier said. "I rushed to get home as soon as I could from our little workout at the field. Obviously, they disappointed me. I'm like, I should have taken the road trip. They let me down."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Jumbo Diaz, Kevin Kiermaier, Mallex Smith