After a successful rehab game yesterday, Ben Zobrist is preparing to rejoin the Tampa Bay Rays. He has not officially come back–he will play in one more contest with High-A Charlotte tonight at 6:30–but the Rays are already making room for him on the roster. Cole Figueroa has been sent back down with Kevin Kiermaier and Ali Solis sticking around, and Zobrist is expected to replace him tomorrow.
The Rays could really use Ben Zobrist. He was not off to the best start when he went down, hitting to a .260/.352/.364 line, but he is a dependable bat in the middle of the order and gives the Rays options through his versatility. The Rays have plenty more bench options knowing that Zobrist can move from the infield to the outfield if necessary, and his switch-hitting also increases what he can do. The Rays need a spark after a sweep at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays, and Zobrist can give them that.
Figueroa, meanwhile, departs after a fine job in his first big league stint, going 3 for 12 with a double and a game-winning RBI. The Rays could have demoted Kevin Kiermaier instead, but Figueroa’s playing time would have been limited with Zobrist back while Kiermaier will play a major role. The good news for Figueroa: now that he is on the 40-man roster, he is a sure bet to return in September if not sooner.
It is worth noting that the Rays are sending down Figueroa today instead of tomorrow and the reason is simple: he can return to the big league roster one day earlier if necessary. This is just another way that the Rays seize every edge they can get. In any event, the Rays are excited to have Ben Zobrist back while Cole Figueroa can be proud of what he accomplished.