The Rays have had talent bursting from the seams for years now, yet for some reason, they had never gotten around to replacing Justin Ruggiano on their 40-man roster until finally making the Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon signings official today.
Ruggiano, along with Cuban defector Leslie Anderson, were designated for assignment to make room for the two veterans.
Ruggiano was added to the 40-man roster and called up by the Rays way back on Sept. 16, 2007. He got 14 at-bats with the team at the end of the season and had three hits and three RBI. In 2008, he received four callups and played in 45 games, hitting .197/.247/.329 in 76 at-bats. Already 26, his future seemed dim at that point.
Still, the Rays kept carrying him. Ruggiano slipped to .250/.330/.412 in his third season in Triple-A in 2009, and he was never given a callup, even after the rosters expanded in September. Yet there he was, still on the 40-man roster again all winter. In 2010, he bounced back somewhat, hitting .287/.357/.453 for Durham. Again, he was denied even a September callup.
So, Ruggiano ended up spending three years and five months on the Rays’ 40-man roster and giving the team a .200/.250/.311 line in 90 at-bats during the span. With the way his minor league numbers have fallen off the last two years, it’s hard to imagine him being claimed off waivers. He probably wouldn’t even be very intriguing to a Japanese team at this point. If he ever shows up on a 40-man roster again, it’d be an upset.
The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs NLCS Game 6
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Wrigley Field, Chicago
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Kyle Hendricks (Cubs) vs. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
We’re pulling out the big guns for this one. The Cubs took Los Angeles by storm again in Game 5, closing out their road trip with an eight-run spread over the Dodgers, and tonight they’ll try to clinch the NLCS on home turf in Game 6.
Pitching-wise, it’s a rematch of Game 2 with Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69 ERA) on the mound. Kershaw took the first set against the Cubs, going seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts in Game 2 while Hendricks held the Dodgers to a single run over 5 1/3 innings. Adrian Gonzalez was the only Dodger to capitalize on Hendricks’ cutter, going yard in his first at-bat to generate a 1-0 lead.
The Cubs’ biggest strength so far this series has been an electric offense, something the Dodgers have struggled to replicate against left-hander Jon Lester and Joe Maddon’s airtight bullpen. While they’ve already beaten Hendricks at Wrigley Field once this October, they’ll need Kershaw to go the distance in another playoff gem if they intend to keep the Cubs’ championship hopes at bay with a 3.4-run average. Should Kershaw and his crew knot the series again, the tiebreaker will fall to Rich Hill and Jake Arrieta in Game 7.
In a show of good sportsmanship, the Cleveland Cavaliers have moved their championship ring ceremony start time back to 7 PM EDT to avoid conflicting with the start of the World Series opener on Tuesday. The Indians are set to host Game 1 at Progressive Field on October 25, while the Cavs will open the 2016-17 NBA season against the New York Knicks at the nearby Quicken Loans Arena, preceded by a ceremony recognizing their first franchise title.
In the event that the Indians clinch a World Series title, it’ll be the first time Cleveland has seen two championships in the same calendar year since 1948, when the Indians’ last Series title came on the back of the Cleveland Browns’ All-American Football Conference championship against the Buffalo Bills. The same was true for the Dodgers in 1988, when their World Series win against the Athletics coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 11th championship, while Chicago has yet to see a multi-title year among their NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB franchises.
Regardless of the Series’ outcome, Cleveland fans will get the chance to revel in one long-awaited championship win on Tuesday before watching the beginning of a nail-biting conclusion to another long-awaited playoff run. The Cavaliers are scheduled for 7 PM EDT on October 25, while the Indians will take the field at 8 PM EDT.