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Tampa Bay Rays: Sign reliever Kevin Jepsen and recall Maile

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Veteran reliever returns to the  Tampa Bay Rays bringing needed leadership along with a recall of a defensive catcher

The Tampa Bay Rays have begun to shore up their roster as they begin the second half of the season on Friday when they host the Baltimore Orioles.

They have done so by adding some much needed depth and veteran experience in their bullpen as well as replacing the recently demoted catcher Hank Conger.

A familiar face returns as the Tampa Bay Rays signed veteran reliever Kevin Jepsen to help an overworked and underachieving bullpen.

Jepsen who was with the Tampa Bay Rays last season before his trade to the Los Angeles Angels for minor league prospects Chih-Wei Hu and Alexis Tapia was released earlier this month by the Minnesota Twins.

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Minnesota acquired Jepsen from the Los Angeles Angels at the trade deadline last July. He was superb down the stretch for the Twins as he would step into the closers role following an injury to Glen Perkins.

Jepsen appeared in 29 games and would go onto save 10 games while posting  1-1 record with a 1.61 ERA in 28 innings pitched.

He would be rewarded for this by landing a $5.5 million dollar contract through salary arbitration this past spring.

However, his line from 2015 never resurfaced in his 33 appearances. In 30-2/3 innings he posted a 2-5 record with a 6.16 ERA which lead to his eventual release after clearing waivers.

From a financial standpoint, Jepsen fits the bill as the Tampa Bay Rays are responsible for only a prorated share of the major league minimum (based on his salary) which is about $222,000 for the remainder of the season.

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The addition of Jepsen will require the Tampa Bay Rays to make a corresponding move to the roster with the likely candidates coming out of a trio of rookies in Dylan Floro, Tyler Sturdevant and Rays Garton.

Another addition to the Tampa Bay Rays roster is catcher Luke Maile who was recalled from Triple-A Durham to take the roster spot of Hank Conger who had been optioned to Durham, Maile will be officially added to the roster prior to the start of Friday night’s game.

Maile had a cup of coffee last September getting into 15, batting .171 with two RBIs in 35 at-bats. He arrives from Durham batting .242 with two home runs and 12 RBIs.

“Obviously we brought Luke up last year to get him some experience,” said Tampa Bay Rays manger Kevin Cash, “I think we kind of envisioned a scenario where he was going to be up here. We need to find out a little bit about him, He’s actually had a pretty good run offensively her the last month or so at Triple-A.

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The offensive run that Cash mentions is that Maile has hit .319 over the past 30 days and is batting .269 in the month of July after a slow start to the season. Maile will split the catching duties with Curt Casali who has yet to really catch any sort of flame.

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More importantly though, the Rays will be looking at Maile to do a better job behind the dish defensively, specifically throwing out base runners attempting to steal.

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