ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In the end, reliever Josh Lueke ran out of time to improve his performance with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays designated Lueke for assignment Saturday and promoted right-handed reliever Kirby Yates from Triple-A Durham. Lueke had a 5.64 ERA in 30 1/3 innings this season. He last appeared in a loss to the Miami Marlins on Thursday at Tropicana Field, where he allowed two hits and two runs in the ninth inning.
"I will defend him in the sense that this guy has attempted to do everything that we’ve asked him to do," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He’s become quicker to the plate, work on certain pitches, his routine — his pre-pitch routine. I never saw him really out of control of his emotions on the mound. I thought he was actually very much under control of his emotions on the mound. His stuff was actually pretty good, but the results just weren’t happening."
Lueke, gained in a November 2011 trade that sent catcher John Jaso to the Seattle Mariners, was mostly seen in low-leverage situations with Tampa Bay. He was 1-4 with a 6.22 ERA in 47 appearances in parts of three seasons with the Rays.
Yates, meanwhile, will make his Rays debut after working his way through the minors since entering Tampa Bay’s organization in 2009 with Princeton at the rookie-ball level. The 27-year-old native of Lihue, Hawaii, is 1-0 with a 0.36 ERA in 21 appearances with Triple-A Durham this season.
"Kirby has earned this opportunity," Maddon said. "He’s having another great year, a guy we were exposed to not only this year but the previous year in spring training. Really liked him, liked his stuff."