Rays notes: Ryan Hanigan eager to be back on field for Tampa Bay
JUN 11, 2014 9:16p ET
The catcher was activated from the 15-day disabled list Wednesday and batted ninth against St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha at Tropicana Field in the finale of an eight-game homestand. The return was welcomed for Hanigan, who had hit .212 with three home runs and 22 RBI before going on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. Catcher Ali Solis, who played in eight games, was optioned to Triple-A Durham to make room for Hanigan.
"I'm excited to get back out there and bring some energy and get my feet wet again -- first time in a few weeks," Hanigan said. "So I'm looking forward to it. We're playing a team that I faced quite a bit, so hopefully I can help our pitching staff and do my job."
Hanigan, who spent seven years with the Cincinnati Reds before joining the Rays last December, returned to face a familiar foe. The Reds won two National League Central crowns and appeared in the postseason three times during his time with them, which included heated games against St. Louis.
Despite the rivalry, Hanigan had positive words to say about the Cardinals. He gained respect for them over the years because of what they represented: A symbol of what the Reds wanted to become.
"Played a lot of games against them," he said. "For a while there, they were the team to beat in the division. But then in 2010, we took the division, and in '12 and '13, we made the playoffs as well. So I think for us, back then, to beat the Cardinals -- that was the team to beat in that division, for sure."
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon was pleased to see Hanigan return. Maddon said he plans to ease Hanigan back into duty, so expect to see reserve catcher Jose Molina receive more starts.
"It's really wonderful to have him back," Maddon said of Hanigan. "He's another one the (key) participants, he's a baseball lifer. I really enjoy being around him. So yes, it's great to put his name back in the lineup. I know he's very excited."
COBB WORKING TO FINE-TUNE APPROACH
Right-hander Alex Cobb will approach Friday's start against the Houston Astros with a defined goal: Be more detailed in his delivery.
He allowed a season-worst seven runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Seattle Mariners last Saturday at Tropicana Field. Cobb said a number of issues, including body control on the mound, contributed to the struggle.
"There were a couple different things that were leading to one another," Cobb said. "The main factor being rushing down the hill a little bit, letting your body go down before your arm was caught up. And you have to figure out the root of that, why that was happening. So that was one (factor), and then it led to a number of other issues."
Cobb, who's 1-4 with a 4.39 ERA in seven starts, made an apt comparison for the problems. He likened them to car trouble -- when one aspect failed, a chain reaction followed.
"I feel like I've got a good grasp on what's going on right now," he said.
INSPIRATION WORKS FOR JOYCE
Outfielder Matt Joyce embraced deep thought early Wednesday. He composed a tweet that included inspirational quotes from noted writers Dr. Seuss and Ralph Waldo Emerson about persevering through hardship. The message seemed appropriate after the Rays entered Wednesday's game being shut out in their last three contests.
"Everybody goes through hard times, and I think you grow the most from those times," Joyce said. "You learn most from your failures. That's what the saying says -- you don't learn a lot from your successes, you learn a lot from your failures. I was just thinking about some stuff last night, and obviously, everybody is frustrated here. So you've just got to keep going."
Something worked. Joyce ended the Rays' team-record 31-inning scoreless streak Wednesday with an RBI single to center field off Wacha that scored James Loney in the bottom of the fourth inning, the start of a four-run rally.
LA RUSSA GUARANTEES RAYS WILL CONTEND
Here's some much-needed hope for Tampa Bay: Soon-to-be Hall of Famer Tony La Russa predicts the Rays will be contenders in the season's second half.
The former manager and Tampa native, a three-time World Series champion (two with the Cardinals), was present at Tropicana Field to throw out the first pitch Wednesday. He visited with Maddon before doing so, and despite the Rays' ghastly 24-42 record entering Wednesday, La Russa is a believer in their potential.
"There's nobody who manages any better than Joe, whether you're going well or you're struggling," said La Russa, now the Arizona Diamondbacks' chief baseball officer. "And one of the things that he has done is he's keeping that club intact. It's a long season, and I will guarantee you that when they get to the second half of the season, the Rays will be in contention."