BALTIMORE -- Brandon Guyer joined the Rays on Friday and manager Joe Maddon got him right into the swing of things by penciling him into Friday night's lineup, hitting sixth and playing left field. Guyer responded by crushing a two-run homer in his first big league at-bat off Orioles starter Zach Britton in the second inning.
Tampa Bay placed right-hander Jeff Niemann on the disabled list due to back stiffness. Since his next scheduled start was Tuesday, the Rays were afforded the luxury of adding an extra position player to the roster, so they recalled Guyer from Triple-A Durham.
Guyer, 25, came to the Rays in the trade that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs. He has been red-hot for the Bulls, hitting .356 with six home runs and he has a 1.018 OPS in 28 games.
"I got the report from [Durham manager] Charlie [Montoyo], and he's pretty much been playing a complete game," Maddon said. "... The reports read the same way Charlie wrote to me: Hitting well. Hitting with some power, runs really well, can steal a bag, very good outfielder at all the defensive positions. And he throws well. Pretty good scouting report.
"Very eager kind of guy -- will run through things. He's a football player, an ex-football player. He's got a great attitude. I got to know him during Spring Training. Love the way he is, he definitely fits our mode as a Rays baseball player."
Guyer was named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Year for 2010, after he hit .344 with 13 home runs and 30 stolen bases for Double-A Tennessee. He credited his fast start with Durham to following through with the same approach that worked last season.
"I kept things simple and didn't try to do too much, which I think I did earlier in my career," Guyer said. "I just went out there and had fun -- kept things simple. I would say 'KISS' before every at-bat: keep it simple, stupid. That's my motto, and I tried to do that and it worked out great."
Guyer hails from the Herndon area in northern Virginia and lives in Rockville, Md., with his wife, Lindsay Murphy, who is the sports anchor for Fox 5 in Washington, D.C. "We were joking around, because she covers the Orioles all the time, maybe she'll have to cover me [Friday night]," Guyer said. "... She's actually supposed to anchor tonight, but they let her off so she could come to the game."
Guyer is the third player in a span of six days that the Rays have recalled to make their Major League debut, following right-handers Alex Cobb and Brandon Gomes. The Rays now have five players on the active roster acquired in two offseason trades: Sam Fuld, Gomes, Guyer, Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell.
Niemann expected to be out three weeks
BALTIMORE -- Jeff Niemann's 15-day stint on the DL will be retroactive to May 4, and he's expected to miss three weeks. The 6-foot-9 right-hander will rest for a week before resuming baseball activity. In his absence, the Rays will need to cover for his planned start Tuesday.
Manager Joe Maddon said the way the pitching sets up, the club will fill Niemann's spot in the rotation, rather than simply moving the rotation up a day, which would have been possible given Monday's day off. But Maddon wants to have David Price and James Shields available to start in the two-game series against the Yankees on May 16-17 at Tropicana Field. Staying in order would allow the rotation to fall into place to hit that mark.
The Rays can either fill the spot by having long man Andy Sonnanstine make the start, or they could bring up a starter from Triple-A Durham.
Price batting practice video drawing raves
BALTIMORE -- David Price's recent batting practice theatrics are drawing national attention.
During a recent stint in the batting cage while preparing for the team's first Interleague contest at Florida on May 20, Price hit a ball into the stands. He then proceeded to round the bases, beginning the journey with a cartwheel over first base and second base. He slid into third, then finished the trip with a somersault over the plate.
Now the video seems to be everywhere. Players inside the Rays' clubhouse enjoyed re-living the episode via TV prior to Friday night's game.
Rays name honorary bat girl
BALTIMORE -- Major League Baseball and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world's largest breast cancer organization, announced the winners of the 2011 Honorary Bat Girl Contest, a campaign to recognize baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrated a commitment to fighting the disease.
The winner of the Honorary Bat Girl Contest for the Rays is Shari Elliott.
At the age of 35, Elliott was diagnosed with breast cancer, but the mother of two has decided to "live with cancer instead of thinking of dying of cancer." She volunteers and participates in numerous breast cancer awareness events and helps other women who have recently been diagnosed with the disease cope with the news.
On May 15, Elliott will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Rays game against the Baltimore Orioles. In conjunction with Elliott's recognition, the Rays have donated 200 tickets to Susan G. Komen, and volunteers at the game will be handing out pink ribbons, a symbol for breast cancer awareness.
The Honorary Bat Girl program was introduced in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for the annual Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer initiative, celebrated on Mother's Day. In three years, nearly 4,000 testimonials have been submitted, and more than six million fan votes have been cast. Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer is a joint partnership between MLB, its licensed partners and Susan G. Komen for the Cure to raise awareness about the breast cancer cause, while also raising funds to support breast cancer research.
Elliott is one of the 30 winners, one for each MLB club. She was among more than 1,500 entrants that were selected by more than a half-million fan votes on www.HonoraryBatGirl.com, a Web site powered by MLB.com, and a panel of celebrity judges.
Darius Rucker to perform at the Trop
BALTIMORE -- Darius Rucker will perform at Tropicana Field following the Rays-Orioles game on May 14. On Friday morning, the popular vocalist spoke to the Tampa Bay media on a conference call, during which he allowed that he pulls for all the teams in the American League East -- other than the Yankees.
He also spoke about his love for the Cincinnati Reds, the team he has rooted for since their days as "The Big Red Machine." Barry Larkin is his all-time favorite player.
"Oh absolutely [Larkin belongs in the Hall of Fame]," Rucker said. "I can't believe he's not in it. You have to remember when Barry Larkin was in his prime, you could have asked any general manager in baseball if there was one player in baseball you could have picked to start your team, and they would have said 'Barry Larkin.' I think everyone would have said Barry Larkin. He definitely belongs in the Hall of Fame."
As for the Rays...
"What I like the most about the Rays, they're in such a small market ... whoever is running the Rays is doing a great job," Rucker said. "... But I just love the way they're taking the rules and they're trying to do it their way. And I love that."
The concert at Tropicana Field is free with the purchase of that night's game ticket. As part of its Saturday partnership, Hess Express will have an exclusive in-store ticket offer. Tickets for these games and all other Rays home games are currently available online, at the Tropicana Field Box Office, Rays Tampa Office & Pro Shop, via the Rays official website (raysbaseball.com), all Ticketmaster locations and by calling 888-FAN-RAYS.
Yesterday, infielder Felipe Lopez accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A Durham. He was to report on Friday.
Left-hander J.P. Howell (left-shoulder surgery) made his first rehab appearance with Triple-A Durham on Thursday night against Syracuse and threw a scoreless seventh inning in Durham's 4-3 win. He walked one and had a strikeout. In all, Howell has made five rehab appearances and has not allowed a run in 5 2/3 innings.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.