The Rays decided the time was right, and they plan to add veteran outfielder/designated hitter Hideki Matsui to their roster Tuesday.
Matsui, who turns 38 next month, signed a minor league deal with the Rays on April 30 and has been playing at Class AAA Durham, and without much success, hitting .170 with no homers and four RBI in 13 games.
However, two factors contributed to the decision to bring him to the majors.
One is that the Rays were clear from the start that they weren't going to evaluate Matsui on his minor league performance but on his readiness to face major league pitching, and that they would consult with him on the decision. He obviously felt ready.
The other is the sad state of their offense. With Evan Longoria, Desmond Jennings and Jeff Keppinger sidelined, the Rays have been using a lineup with four and sometimes five Class AAA quality players. Matsui would, if nothing else, give them a veteran presence to be used in pinch-hitting situations. He also played the outfield four times at Durham, so he could get time in left field.
A corresponding move will be made before Tuesday's game. The most likely candidate to go down appears to be outfielder/first baseman/catcher Stephen Vogt, who has played sparingly. Vogt is hitless in 17 at-bats over 10 games this season.
The Rays managed just three hits and struck out 15 times Monday in a 2-1 loss to the White Sox.
--LHP Matthew Moore had one of his best outings of the season, striking out 10 and holding the high-powered White Sox to just two runs, albeit on an Adam Dunn home run, but it wasn't enough for a win. Chicago LHP Chris Sale shut down the Tampa Bay hitters and struck out 15. Still, it was progress for Moore (1-5 with a 4.76 ERA). "He looked a lot more comfortable and definitely had a great game to build off emotionally," manager Joe Maddon said.
--RF/2B Ben Zobrist might have had the best compliment of the many being tossed around the Rays clubhouse about White Sox LHP Chris Sale, after Sale struck out 15 Rays. "I don't know what it was like facing Randy Johnson when he was young, but (Sale) has got great stuff, and I think he's got a real bright future," Zobrist said. "He's a phenomenal young pitcher and is going to be good for a long time."
--C Jose Lobaton was activated from the disabled list and inserted in the lineup at DH Monday, and he delivered a fourth-inning single that produced his first RBI in the majors. Lobaton had been out since April 13 due to right shoulder soreness, and he worked his way back with a rehab assignment that included stops at advanced Class A Charlotte, Class AA Montgomery and Class AAA Durham.
--C Chris Gimenez was optioned to Class AAA Durham when C Jose Lobaton was reinstated from the disabled list. Gimenez, signed to a minor league deal just before spring training, impressed the Rays with his work behind the plate, but not as much at it, as he hit only .191 through 24 games.
--OF Desmond Jennings continues to progress in his recovery from a left knee sprain, but under a timetable laid out Monday by manager Joe Maddon, it could be the end of next week before he rejoins the lineup. Jennings ran arcs on the edge of the infield dirt, but he still has to handle running the bases and sliding before going on a minor league rehab assignment that, with days off, will last about a week.
BY THE NUMBERS: 15 -- Rays struck out by White Sox LHP Chris Sale, a Tropicana Field record for any pitcher.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I really thought that was going to hit the scoreboard when he hit it. It was a helium ball. It was just staying up there." -- Rays manager Joe Maddon, on the two-run homer that White Sox 1B Adam Dunn hit to right field.