Rays acquire Christian Bethancourt from Athletics for catching depth

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
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TAMPA, Fla. — Needing depth at behind the plate, the Tampa Bay Rays acquired catcher and infielder Christian Bethancourt from the Oakland Athletics for a pair of minor leaguers.

The A’s received right-hander Christian Fernandez and outfielder Cal Stevenson in the deal.

Bethancourt carried a .249 average with four home runs and 19 RBIs in 56 games with the A’s after beginning the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. He was 5 for 19 (.263) in five games for the Aviators when he was added to the A’s roster on April 15. The versatile Bethancourt has started games at first base, catcher and designated hitter.

Rays catcher Mike Zunino has been sidelined since June 10 with left shoulder inflammation.

The 30-year-old, right-handed hitting Bethancourt has started 24 games at first base, 12 at catcher and eight at designated hitter. This is his sixth season in the majors, his first since 2017, and he has career highs with 23 runs, 11 doubles and four stolen bases.

The Rays designated for assignment right-hander David McKay to make room on the 40-man roster for Bethancourt.

A’s assistant general manager Dan Feinstein expects the left-handed hitting Stevenson to be a major leaguer in the near future. He will start with Las Vegas.

The 25-year-old Stevenson – a native of nearby Fremont in the East Bay – was batting .265 with two home runs and 17 RBIs over 57 games with Triple-A Durham. He drew 31 walks for a .376 on-base percentage and has nine stolen bases.

“We think he’s a very good defensive center fielder. He can also play the corners, but we like him as a center fielder,” Feinstein said. “He can really run. He controls the strike zone very well. Excellent contact skills. Very good against right-handed pitching. We think he’ll certainly be a useful major league piece.”

Fernandez has spent the entire season at Class A Charleston, where he was 5-2 with a 2.79 ERA in eight starts and eight relief appearances.

Dodgers to retire Fernando Valenzuela’s No. 34 this summer

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers will retire the No. 34 jersey of pitcher Fernando Valenzuela during a three-day celebration this summer.

Valenzuela was part of two World Series champion teams, winning the 1981 Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards. He was a six-time All-Star during his 11 seasons in Los Angeles from 1980-90.

He will be honored from Aug. 11-13 when the Dodgers host Colorado.

Valenzuela will join Pee Wee Reese, Tommy Lasorda, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Jim Gilliam, Don Sutton, Walter Alston, Sandy Koufax, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson and Don Drysdale with retired numbers.

“To be a part of the group that includes so many legends is a great honor,” Valenzuela said. “But also for the fans, the support they’ve given me as a player and working for the Dodgers, this is also for them.”