5/17/2014 11:40 P.M. ET
Kiermaier returns to Rays, replaces Jennings
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Kevin Kiermaier joined the Rays on Saturday to begin his second stint with the team this season, and he started in center field.
Following Friday night's 3-0 win over the Angels, Desmond Jennings left the team to go on the bereavement list because of a death in his family. He will be away from the team until Tuesday. In a corresponding move, the Rays recalled Kiermaier from Triple-A Durham.
Based on Jennings' situation, Kiermaier will be with the team at least through Sunday's series finale against the Angels. He understands his situation is short term, but that didn't seem to bother him.
"I'm just pumped to be back up here with the guys," he said.
Earlier this season, the 24-year-old Kiermaier served a two-game stint with the Rays when the team played a weekend series in Cincinnati. Highly regarded for his defensive abilities, Kiermaier made his mark in the Rays' 1-0 win over the Reds on April 12.
The rookie center fielder charged a single through the middle and threw a strike to catcher Ryan Hanigan, who was waiting at home to apply the tag to Joey Votto. After the game, Rays manager Joe Maddon noted: "That's the play of the game, that's the play of the season so far."
Kiermaier was optioned back to Durham after that game and he's continued to progress offensively. He is hitting .322 with three home runs and 10 RBIs with 10 stolen bases and an OPS of .855 for the Bulls.
"Ever since my callup to Cincinnati, they told me to keep ironing things out offensively," Kiermaier said. "I took that to heart and I said, 'Man, I've got to make the adjustments to get back up here.' And I've felt really good the past two or three weeks down there in Durham. I'm really happy where I'm going in my progression offensively."
Rays fans also remember Kiermaier for joining the Rays' roster for Game 163 at Texas last season,and he also appeared in the Wild Card Game at Cleveland.
Kiermaier posted his first Major League hit in the sixth inning Saturday, beating out an infield single.
Price impressed by MLB's Urban Youth Academy
ANAHEIM -- Friday night, David Price participated in a cow milking contest. Saturday morning, he visited Major League Baseball's Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., and Sunday, he'll start against the Angels.
Quite a full weekend.
Price seemed impressed by his first visit to the facility
"It was good," said Price of his visit, which allowed him to meet some of the youth baseball and softball academy players. "It was different than I thought it was going to be. That facility was awesome. I don't think I've really been to a facility like that for young kids to play baseball.
"They're giving them the chance to be successful on the baseball field, and that's what we need."
Price has been the Rays' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award each of the past two seasons for his sportsmanship and community involvement.
Hanigan available to catch in emergency situation
ANAHEIM -- Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan left Friday night's game prior to the bottom of the eighth because of a right hamstring problem that arose when he grounded out to end the seventh.
Hanigan has been receiving treatment for the problem, which he felt was caused by either cramping or a mild strain. Prior to Saturday night's game, he reported still being a little tender, but seemed to think if he can continue to get treatment, he'll be fine by Tuesday. But that did not eliminate the possibility of him being used in case of an emergency, which Rays manager Joe Maddon also said was a possibility.
However, if Hanigan is not available, Sean Rodriguez will be the emergency catcher. After Rodriguez, the duty would fall to Wil Myers. The Rays outfielder once played catcher in the Royals' farm system.
Rodriguez noted that he would embrace the challenge, if the opportunity arrises.
"I wouldn' shy away from it," said Rodriguez, who noted that the Angels flirted with him about the possibility of playing catcher when he was in their organization. "If there's an opportunity for me to show that I can play baseball, I'm going to do it."
Rodriguez dropped a surprise on reporters when he was asked if he had a catcher's mitt. He pulled out a Gold Glove Rawlings mitt with No. 4 stitched on it. Yadier Molina gave him the glove.
"I thought he'd be giving me a rag," said Rodriguez, obviously proud of the special mitt.
Hanigan managed a smile when asked if he had any advice for Rodriguez or Myers if they have to be used behind the plate.
"I hope it doesn't come to that," he said.
Cobb ready to return to rotation this week
ANAHEIM -- Alex Cobb appears ready to return to the Rays' rotation following his rehab start Saturday in Port Charlotte against the Clearwater Phillies.
"Yeah, I feel physically able to compete in a big league game for sure," said Cobb, who has been on the disabled list mending from a strained oblique since April 13.
Cobb's next outing likely will be in a Major League game. The questions yet to be answered are when he will make that start and what movements will take place on the roster to accommodate his return.
In theory, since Cobb pitched Saturday, he would be in line to pitch Thursday for the Rays. Currently the starter for that day has not yet been announced, though based on the rotation's current order, that would be Cesar Ramos' day. The Rays can go in a number of directions, which could affect Erik Bedard, Jake Odorizzi and Romero in some fashion. Rays manager Joe Maddon said he has not made a call on how the club plans to proceed, but he did note that he'll be happy to have Cobb back in the rotation.
Saturday, Cobb allowed no runs on three hits and no walks while striking out nine. Of the 64 pitches he threw, 46 were strikes.
"I went out there and threw all my pitches and didn't have any residual feelings of any pain coming back or any thoughts of pain coming back, so I was just out there being aggressive," Cobb said. "Everything was coming out good, so I was pleased with it."
Cobb planned to use a normal game plan Saturday, but because he faced Class A hitters, he adjusted accordingly.
"Guys are pretty aggressive down here, so you have to throw out of the zone a little bit," Cobb said. "That's all right, because I felt my fastball command was pretty good. The next thing is working on offspeed and getting them in the zone and out of the zone. I was happy with all three pitches."
Cobb called Saturday's outing a "normal game," and that meant different plays and scenarios occurring.
"I got a lot of runners on, so I got to work out of the stretch a lot," Cobb said. "I got to work out of the windup quite a bit, too. It went as good as planned."
Nix returns to Rays on Minor League deal
ANAHEIM -- The Rays have signed veteran infielder Jayson Nix to a Minor League deal.
Nix joined Triple-A Durham on Saturday and was in the lineup at second base for the Bulls.
Nix chose free agency rather than reporting to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after he was outrighted by the Phillies this week.
The Rays signed Nix to a Minor League deal in January, and he played for the team throughout Spring Training. But when he did not make the team, the Rays traded him to the Phillies for cash considerations.
Nix hit .154 with a home run and two RBIs in 18 games with the Phillies.
He has a .216 career average with 38 home runs and 128 RBIs in stints with the Rockies, White Sox, Indians, Blue Jays, Yankees, and Phillies.
He can play multiple positions and has played second base, shortstop, third base and the corner outfield positions during his Major League career.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.