5/15/2014 9:25 P.M. ET
Figueroa excited for first big league experience
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Cole Figueroa's selection from Triple-A Durham gave the 26-year-old infielder his first Major League callup.
Interestingly, his callup means that all four players acquired from the Padres in exchange for shortstop Jason Bartlett on Dec. 17, 2010, have reached the Major Leagues. That list also includes left-hander Cesar Ramos, right-hander Brandon Gomes, and right-hander Adam Russell.
"Obviously, I'd rather [the move] be just on merit on my own," Figueroa said. "I mean, you never want to see one of the best players in baseball, not just on the Rays, go down. But, hopefully, I can just help out a minuscule bit while I'm here. Have some fun, soak it all in."
Figueroa was hitting .299 at Durham this season. Rays manager Joe Maddon has watched him play during Spring Training and has been impressed by the former University of Florida infielder.
"I think Cole Figueroa is a really good baseball player," Maddon said. "I sent him out this year [during Spring Training] and again I told him, and I meant it, that 'You're a big league baseball player.'
"I like his tools. I like his abilities a lot. He's a bright player. A smart baseball player. He was going to make the Major Leagues at some point. It just happened a little bit sooner based on the situation."
Though Figueroa has spent a good bit of time in Major League camp with the Rays, he noted that being in the Major Leagues is different.
"Spring Training to regular season, it's a totally different outlook on how I go about it," Figueroa said. "It's just one of those things you can't describe until you're walking into the stadium and you're like, 'Wow, you've made it after all this time.'"
Figueroa left Wednesday's Durham game after the first inning, receiving hugs and well wishes from his teammates. All the while he wondered in the back of his mind if he actually would join the team. Earlier this week, left-hander Enny Romero headed to Seattle to join the team only to be re-routed back to Durham once he got to Detroit. Once he got the final word that Zobrist had officially gone on the disabled list, he managed to relax a little bit.
"I definitely wasn't expecting [the promotion]," Figueroa said. "There are plenty of guys who are deserving and obviously on the roster. I'm just glad they're giving me a chance to do something up here. And, hopefully, I can show them that they made the right decision, and I think I will."
Zobrist lands on DL after dislocating left thumb
ANAHEIM -- The Rays placed Ben Zobrist on the disabled list Thursday and selected infielder Cole Figueroa from Triple-A Durham prior to their contest against the Angels.
Zobrist dislocated his left thumb in Wednesday afternoon's 2-0 win over the Mariners.
After hitting a one-out single in the fifth, Zobrist was thrown out trying to steal second base. He slid into the base headfirst, and after appearing to jam his left hand on the bag, he got up, holding it, and called to the Rays' bench.
Zobrist did not return to the field to play defense in the bottom half of the inning as Sean Rodriguez took his place at second base.
After team trainers had a difficult time trying to pop his thumb back into place, Zobrist saw a doctor and had X-rays to make sure there was not a fracture. The thumb was then popped back into place.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said losing Zobrist will be tough for the team because "the guy is a regular part of our heartbeat."
In his absence, the Rays will use Rodriguez, Figueroa, and Logan Forsythe.
Rodriguez said he hopes to make the most of his opportunity.
"Just having the opportunity to go out there daily with the possibility that you'll be able to contribute more than the little bit that you have been doing is something to look forward to," Rodriguez said.
Zobrist can throw, run and exercise now. After allowing the injury to heal some, he'll gradually advance to where he hits. Catching balls in his glove will be the final step in his recovery that could take anywhere from one to three weeks.
Zobrist was not surprised to be placed on the DL.
"That's probably the safer approach than trying to push it and maybe have an unstable joint coming back earlier than that 15 days," Zobrist said. "They have no idea [how long it will take]. We don't know. But obviously these things, sometimes you can come back quickly from them and sometimes they take longer."
Zobrist accepted his fate with grace.
"It's just one of those things where it's going to happen at some point in your career," Zobrist said. "You're going to have something like that. And, fortunately, I haven't had very many things I've had to go on the DL for. It's disappointing, but at the same time, it will let everything heal up a little bit. Hopefully, when I come back, I'll be more fresh and ready to help the team out."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.