Rays lose All-Star candidate Matt Joyce to DL

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The Rays have been without their best hitter in Evan Longoria for almost two months now. Now they’re going to be without their second-best for at least two weeks.

Matt Joyce, who leads the team in average, homers and RBI this season, was placed on the disabled list due to his back injury. He last played in Tuesday’s game against the Rays.

The Joyce move was one of six made by the Rays today. The team also optioned outfielder Rich Thompson to Triple-A and designated infielder Drew Sutton for assignment.

Added to the roster were infielders Brooks Conrad and Jeff Keppinger and reliever Brandon Gomes. Conrad was claimed off waivers from the Brewers on Thursday, while Keppinger had been on the DL for the last month due to a broken toe.

Gomes was needed to help out in the pen. With Joel Peralta dropping his appeal Friday, the Rays will play with a 24-man roster for the next eight days.

It certainly won’t be easy going for the Rays offense with both Joyce and Longoria out. Ben Zobrist figures to get most of his time in the outfield while Joyce is sidelined, leaving the Rays to pick between Keppinger, Conrad, Elliot Johnson, Sean Rodriguez and Will Rhymes for three infield spots every night.

Pirates release Francisco Cervelli

Francisco Cervelli
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The Pittsburgh Pirates just announced that they have released catcher Francisco Cervelli. No waivers, no DFA. Just his unconditional release.

Cervelli had been on a rehab assignment in the minors in his efforts to come back from a concussion. He had been sidelined since May, and there had been no timeline for his return, but he played in a minor league game as recently as Monday.

Over the summer, however, Cervelli voiced doubts about his ability to continue catching in light of the six concussions he’s weathered over the last decade. At one point he said he could not catch again but then walked it back. Whether his release was requested and whether Cervelli plans to end his big league career is not yet known.

I’m sure we’ll hear more about this soon.

UPDATE: Um, OK. Based on this I guess it’s more of a matter of the Pirates simply not wanting him anymore: