Now batting cleanup for the Reds, Miguel Cairo

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It was pretty much a given that Scott Rolen would get Thursday off after playing all 19 innings in the Reds’ loss to the Phillies on Wednesday, so it was no surprise to see Miguel Cairo in the lineup for the series finale.  What did turn some heads was that the 37-year-old Cairo not only filled in for Rolen defensively, but he took his spot in the batting order and hit cleanup for just the second time in his career.

And it turned out OK.

Cairo, who had started just one game in two weeks, went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored in the 10-4 loss to the Phillies.  He had as many extra-base hits today as he did in his previous 70 at-bats this season.

Cairo’s other appearance in the cleanup spot came eight years ago for the Cardinals in a 2-1 loss to the Astros.  Coincidently, he hit one spot ahead of Rolen in that game.  With Albert Pujols out due to a sore hamstring and Jim Edmonds nursing a calf injury, manager Tony La Russa opted to bat Orlando Palmeiro third and Cairo fourth.

Of course, Cairo didn’t quite measure up to his counterpart, Lance Berkman, in that one.   Nor could he have been expected to match bombs with Ryan Howard today.  Cairo has averaged a homer every 110 at-bats during his career, and his career high for homers is six, established with the Yankees in 2004.  Howard homers once every 13 at-bats.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.