05/28/2002 10:21 pm ET
Rays recall Huff and Hoover
Sends struggling Hall and Tyner to minors
By Damon P. Young / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Trying to shake up the Majors' least-productive offense, the Devil Rays recalled infielder Aubrey Huff and catcher Paul Hoover from Triple-A
Durham Tuesday and optioned catcher Toby Hall and outfielder Jason Tyner.
The Rays entered Tuesday's game ranked last or next-to-last in 11 offensive categories in the American League, including runs scored, average, hits, walks, slugging
percentage and on-base percentage.
Huff was immediately inserted into Tuesday's lineup as the regular DH, going 1-for-3.
Greg Vaughn will now start in left field, replacing Tyner.
John Flaherty will slide back into his starting job behind the plate, a job he ceded to Hall last season.
"I don't know how they're going to help," Tampa Bay manager Hal McRae noted before Tuesday's 5-1 victory over Seattle. "We're hoping we're going to get more offense but I'm just hoping."
"We expect it, hate to see it, but more times than not young players have to go through this," said Chuck LaMar, the Rays general manager and Vice President of Baseball Operations. "Those who learn from the experience and fight through the tough times who become real good Major League players."
Huff, 25, hit .325 with three home runs and 20 RBIs in 32 games at Durham, after missing the first month of the season with a fractured right cheekbone.
"I went down (to Durham) and got about 125 at-bats and tried to get my swing back from 2000," Huff said. "In 2000, I did well down there. I just wanted to get the feel back that I had and I felt I did that. The big thing with me is to have the confidence to know you can play well.
That's what I'm going to try to do here, bring that same mentality up here and hopefully continue to play well."
The infielder/DH hit .248 with 25 doubles, eight homers and 45 RBIs in 111 games for the Rays last season after being called up to replace Vinny Castilla at third base. He committed 15 errors in 73 games at third, prompting his move to first base.
"Last year I put too much pressure on myself," Huff said. "Usually when I'm going good, I'm not thinking, just going out there and having fun. See the ball, hit the ball. Third base was a transition for me but I don't think that had anything to do with how I swung the bat."
Hoover, 26, made his Major League debut last season with the Rays appearing in three games, after Flaherty went on the DL with a herniated disc in his neck. He was hitting .211 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 27 games at Durham.
"Shocked," Hoover declared when asked about his reaction to getting the unexpected 7 a.m. wake-up call. "The phone rang and I just hung up ... I saw that Toby was
struggling but I didn't think anything would happen and even if it did, I didn't know if would be me, (Sal) Fasano or (Yamid) Haad. I wasn't too concerned.
"I wouldn't say either year it was so much my play, but a lack of play of other guys," Hoover said of his return to the big leagues. "I wasn't playing great down there to expect something like this."
To make room for Hoover on the 40-man roster, the club also designated infielder Wilmy Caceres for assignment. The club has 10 days to release, ask waivers or trade Caceres,
who was hitting .237 with two triples and seven RBIs in 37 games at Durham.
Hall, 26, still considered the franchise's catcher of the future, has struggled offensively, hitting just .187 with two homers and 16 RBIs in 36 games. Hall led the International League last season with a .335 average and was voted the IL's MVP and the Rays' minor league
player of the year. He was called up July 26 and started 46 of the club's final 61 games, hitting .298 with 16 doubles, four homers and 30 RBIs.
"I felt like it was time to send both down to Durham, simply because we think it's best for their development and the long-range future of this organization," LaMar said. "There's no question in our minds that they're two ML players.
"(Hall) needs to go down, get out of the Major Leagues and regroup," LaMar said. "It may seem like a negative situation, but this could be the best thing for their careers and the Devil Rays, if they respond and become the players they're capable of becoming ... I thought they both
struggled in Spring Training, as well as some other players who are still here, but we didn't want to hit the panic button. On this last road trip I saw more signs and I just thought it was time."
At the time of his call-up last season, Hall led the IL in hits (125) and ranked third in HRs (19), RBIs (72) and slugging (.568), second in extra-base hits (44) and fourth in doubles (28). He was also named MVP of the All-Star Futures Game in Seattle.
Tyner, 25, provided a spark to the Rays' lineup in 2001 but was unable to do the same over the first two months of this season. In 44 games, the speedster was hitting just .214 with seven stolen bases. Last year, Tyner established club records with 31 stolen bases and 35 infield hits despite playing just 105 games.
"Whether Jason Tyner develops into a starting player or an extra player in the Major Leagues has yet to be seen," LaMar said. "From what we saw last year, he was headed toward being a starting player; a guy that we thought could hit .280 to .300, steal 40 to 50 bases and play
a solid outfield. We have not seen that so far this year."
"It was difficult for me to call (Hall and Tyner) in," McRae said, "because I truly believe they are two of the better players in the organization and part of the future of this organization. We hope they regroup and start to put their abilities into play, which they weren't doing here. As far as our plans for the future nothing changes. It's in their control now, they're going to determine when they come back. My hope is that they go down there and play well."
NOTES: The Devil Rays have postponed this Sunday's Jason Tyner Bobblehead Giveaway promotion. No alternative date has been set.
The announcement of the postponement was made following a series of roster moves made by the club Tuesday, including Tyner being optioned to Triple-A Durham.
Those individual who purchased tickets solely for the June 2 game against the Oakland Athletics can receive refunds by writing the Devil Rays and including the tickets to Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Tropicana Field, One Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg, FL 33705.
A second bobblehead promotion featuring Toby Hall, who was also sent to Durham Tuesday, is currently scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 8.
Damon P. Young is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.