8/31/2014 2:11 P.M. ET
Coaching staff likes Kiermaier's aggressive play
By Bill Chastain and Adam Berry / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays and their fans have embraced the way Kevin Kiermaier plays. The rookie outfielder's hair-on-fire style of play has been a breath of fresh air. He's made diving catches and thrown out runners ever since joining the club. On the flip side, he's been burned by his aggressiveness on occasion.
In that vein, Kiermaier is working to become a smarter player.
"Just try and pick your spots," Kiermaier said. "When to be aggressive and when not to be. Those balls hit right at me, when it's tough to have backup even if guys are sprinting right over, I've got to be aware of that and know that if I do miss it, the guy's going to probably get a triple because anything I don't keep in front of me on this turf is going to go to the wall. It plays really fast."
Kiermaier has an awareness about being wiser, but he doesn't intend to curb his obvious enthusiasm for playing the game.
"For me, big situations in games, I want to try and make that play for our pitchers," Kiermaier said. "And you know I have been over-aggressive at times, but there's been other times where it's paid off for me. [Manager] Joe [Maddon] and the whole staff are always telling me, 'If you're going to make a mistake, make an aggressive one.'"
Outfield coach Dave Martinez, who played superlative defense during his playing days, noted that Kiermaier is "starting to realize a little bit about when to back off."
"Myself, I love the fact he's aggressive and ready at all times to throw the ball," Martinez said.
Martinez allowed that the coaching staff doesn't want to tell Kiermaier too much, because they don't want to curb the aggressive way he plays.
"That's why we don't," Martinez said. "I remember as a young player, taking pride in my defense. You want to try and catch every ball. You want to try and throw everybody out.
"You start learning the league. You know when to back off. When to throw at the right time. I think he's starting to do that. Slowly but surely he'll learn, what balls he should [go for], what balls he shouldn't in certain situations. Where he can go a little harder than in others or a situation when he needs to back off. But he's done phenomenal, and it's a joy to watch him go out there and play."
Odorizzi helps Rays notch record 18th shutout
ST. PETERSBURG -- Saturday night's 7-0 win over the Red Sox represented the Rays' 18th shutout of the season, establishing a new club record.
The previous record was 17 set in 2013.
"It's just kind of how the Rays have always been," outfielder Kevin Kiermaier said. "We feed off our pitching and defense, and a lot of us take a lot of pride in our defense. You can't really say that for a lot of organizations, but it's something we really pride ourselves in, and it shows.
"Eighteen shutouts -- that really doesn't surprise me that much. It's just one thing where we show up every day, and we know it takes all phases of the game to accomplish that feat of shutting a team out."
Jake Odorizzi contributed the lion's share of the blanks Saturday night, with seven scoreless innings.
"I didn't know it was a record, but it's kind of, basically ... good," Odorizzi said. "It's good to be attached to a record if that's the case. But it's not something we're really thinking about going out there every time -- you know, this is shutout No. 16, 17, whatever it may be. You've just got to go out there and throw well."
Rays manager Joe Maddon complimented the work of his staff and offered perspective on the accomplishment.
"We've been good," Maddon said. "And that's minus Matt Moore -- him not being available. We switched gears, David Price versus Drew Smyly. Cobber [Alex Cobb] had been out for a long period of time. We're talking some young pitchers, too -- inexperienced pitchers. Right now, I guess Jeremy Hellickson's the oldest starter? Wow. And how old is he? Twenty-seven. That tells you a lot -- the combination of 18 shutouts with a very youthful staff.
"Now, David, of course, was part of that number too. But it's pretty interesting, and it bodes well for the future, obviously. Bully for the boys -- I mean, that's pretty good stuff."
Return of DeJesus among September additions
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays' first round of September callups filtered into the home clubhouse at Tropicana Field on Sunday morning.
With Major League rosters expanding from 25 to 40 players on Monday, Tampa Bay will call up catcher Curt Casali from Class A Advanced Charlotte and reliever Brandon Gomes from Triple-A Durham. The Rays will also activate outfielder David DeJesus from the 15-day disabled list and select the contract of reliever Steve Geltz. All four players were added to the Rays' taxi squad on Sunday.
The Rays will have to make a corresponding move to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for Geltz before Monday's 1:10 p.m. ET game against the Red Sox.
DeJesus, out since June 18 with a fractured left hand, went 5-for-22 with four walks in eight Minor League games. The 34-year-old outfielder was one of the Rays' most productive hitters this season before going down with the injury, batting .269/.367/.440 in 62 games. He said he is fully cleared to play and has been told he won't need offseason surgery.
"It's great to play," DeJesus said. "It's going to be sore sometimes, but it's not going to break, it's not going to tear anything, so now it's just getting through it and finish the year strong. ... I just want to be with the guys. I want to help the team win."
The Rays optioned Casali to Charlotte on Tuesday so they could bring him back up Monday, and the 25-year-old backstop was able to appreciate one aspect of the unusual assignment: He's now played at Class A, Double-A, Triple-A and the Majors in a whirlwind season.
"It is weird. This year in general has been pretty crazy for me," said Casali, who is hitting .169/.246/.203 in 23 games with the Rays. "I wouldn't have it any other way. It builds character, and it's been fun."
Gomes has split the season between Tampa Bay and Durham, compiling a 2-2 record and 4.50 ERA in 24 innings with the Rays and a 3.62 ERA in 27 appearances for the Bulls.
Geltz, 26, has gone 3-3 with a 2.38 ERA, 60 strikeouts and only 17 walks in 41 2/3 innings over 29 appearances for Durham this season. In May, Geltz received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse.