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Tampa Bay Rays Call-up Five, Part Ways with Conger

By Althea Pashman
Jun 30, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays catcher Hank Conger (24) is congratulated by shortstop Brad Miller (13) as he scored against the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field. Detroit Tigers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 10-7. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 30, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays catcher Hank Conger (24) is congratulated by shortstop Brad Miller (13) as he scored against the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field. Detroit Tigers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 10-7. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Tampa Bay Rays looking towards 2017 add five in their second wave of call-ups and designate catcher Hank Conger for assignment.

The opportunity to get a good look and possible indication of what player or players can help the Tampa Bay Rays in 2017 continued with the addition of five players getting the call for the final weeks of the season.

With the Tampa Bay Rays minor league affiliate at Durham eliminated from post-season play, the Rays have added Mikie Mahtook, infielder/outfielder Richie Shaffer and pitcher Steve Geltz from Triple-Durham.

Also, they have selected the contract of pitcher Justin Marks from Durham.

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In order to accommodate Marks on the 40-man roster, the Rays designated catcher Hank Conger for assignment.

Additionally, the Rays following their game against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday afternoon recalled pitcher Chase Whitley from Double-A Montgomery.

Shaffer, Mahtook and Geltz have all seen time this season with the Rays with Mahtook and Geltz seeing the most playing time.

Mahtook’s line was .158/.218/.228 in 45 games with the Rays this season and appeared to making progress when he was hit by a pitch, suffering a fractured hand in June.

In 2015 Geltz was the “iron man” out of the bullpen for the Rays appearing in 70 games, 68 coming as a reliever. Geltz posted a 2-6 record with a 3.74 ERA in 2015 in 67.1-IP.

However, 2016 turned into a nightmare as he bounced between Durham and the Rays.

This season for the Rays Geltz made 22 relief appearances posting a 6.86 ERA with a 0-2 record in 21-IP and allowed a whopping 10 home runs. Last year he gave up just eight round-trippers.

Although Whitley had completed his rehab assignment from Tommy John surgery he was optioned to Double-A Montgomery instead of coming up to the majors.

This decision was based on the Rays wanting him to build up his stamina and workload, which he would not have been able to accomplish at the major league level.

In 27.2 innings for Montgomery, Whitley was 2-1 with a 2.93 ERA and will be returning to the majors for the first time since 2015 when he pitched for the New York Yankees.

For Marks, this call-up is his second stint in the majors and first since 2014 as a member of the Kansas City Royals when he pitched two-innings in relief.

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All of 2015 was spent in the Diamondbacks organization.

The majority of the past four seasons Mark’s spent time pitching for the Royals, Oakland A’s, Arizona Diamondbacks and the Rays.

During this time he combined to throw 419-innings with a so-so 4.83 ERA.

This season Marks turned it around with a 3.79 ERA in a career-high 145-IP pitching for Charlotte and Durham where he combined to go 7-12, with 131 K’s while holding opposing batters to a .237 average

As well, Marks averaged 8.1 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9, and lefties have batted just .185/.253/.348 against him.

He made 23 starts for Durham, posting a 3.86 ERA in 140-innings and threw a no-hitter on July 16 against the Syracuse Chiefs in the first complete game no-hitter in the history of the Durham Bulls.

Conger had been acquired from the Houston Astros last off-season for cash considerations and was a complete flop in his brief stay with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Not known for his offensive production and certainly not for his defense, Matt Silverman and the Rays gave him a shot and he drew blanks.

He was hitting .194/.265/.306 in 124 at-bats for the Rays before being optioned to Triple-A Durham at the All-Star break.

Conger did not improve at Durham as his line was .165/.200/.303 in 30-games.

Somewhat surprising is that the Rays did not recall Tim Beckham or Taylor Motter, though it is still possible.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Baserunning Blunder Costly for Beckham

However, both players did see significant time with the Rays this season so it’s reasonable to say that the Rays have seen more than enough and are now focusing on other players for 2017.

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