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Plouffe starts to fit in with new team

Veteran has contributed in all three games since joining Rays
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays did not acquire Trevor Plouffe from Oakland because they lacked power. When Plouffe hit his first home run with Tampa Bay on Wednesday, it tied the team with Houston for the Major League lead in long balls.

The Rays brought the 31-year-old Plouffe into the fold to help out in more subtle ways: to grant a regular a day off his feet, to provide a jolt off the bench or to allow the lineup some defensive shuffling.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays did not acquire Trevor Plouffe from Oakland because they lacked power. When Plouffe hit his first home run with Tampa Bay on Wednesday, it tied the team with Houston for the Major League lead in long balls.

The Rays brought the 31-year-old Plouffe into the fold to help out in more subtle ways: to grant a regular a day off his feet, to provide a jolt off the bench or to allow the lineup some defensive shuffling.

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"I want to contribute any way I can to win," Plouffe said after the 8-3 win over the Reds. "It can be offensively, it can be defensively."

In his three games as a Ray, Plouffe has made his presence felt. He's started at three different positions and collected a hit in each contest. On Tuesday night, he helped calm down and refocus pitcher Alex Cobb after a close pickoff play didn't go the Rays' way. Plus, the team took two of three games from the Reds to win the series.

"So far, so good," Plouffe said.

Manager Kevin Cash said the addition of Plouffe, along with infielder Taylor Featherston, has added more valuable pieces to Tampa Bay's bench, which is important to winning games over the long season.

"You look at good teams, they have depth," Cash said. "We're getting some depth, we're getting some versatility."

Video: CIN@TB: Rays react to 8-3 win over Reds

Cash credited the clubhouse's welcoming atmosphere, where the utmost importance is placed on how a player helps the team win on a daily basis. That's a relief for Plouffe, who was traded from an Athletics team now 16 1/2 games back in the division while sporting the worst record (31-40) in the American League, entering Wednesday.

"Coming from Oakland, we weren't playing too well over there, and the first day I got here, the first thing we talked about was winning series and how well the guys have been playing," Plouffe said.

Plouffe struggled at the plate this year with the A's, batting .214 in 58 games with seven homers and 14 RBIs. His bat might not need to be his most valuable asset with Tampa Bay. Either way, he said he does think his hitting is starting to turn around.

"My swing hasn't felt good early in the season but in the three days I've been here, I think I've made some strides in that," Plouffe said. "I feel a little more comfortable at the plate. But again, I'm just trying to help the team win."

Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.

Tampa Bay Rays, Trevor Plouffe