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Rays’ Aaron Civale ready to face former Guardians teammates


The Tampa Bay Rays strengthened their rotation on July 31 by acquiring right-hander Aaron Civale from the Cleveland Guardians

On Friday, Civale will face his former team when the Rays open a three-game series with the Guardians in St. Petersburg, Fla

The Rays look to get back on track after losing 5-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday, and dropping two of three in the series

Cleveland enters the series having split a four-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays, including holding on for a 4-3 win on Thursday

Civale (5-3, 2.55 ERA) will be making his second start since the trade, which sent first base prospect Kyle Manzardo to Cleveland

The 28-year-old made his Tampa Bay debut on Aug. 5 and lost to the Detroit Tigers, giving up three runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings

“There’s obviously a lot of emotions involved in every direction that you can imagine,” Civale said during his introductory news conference with the Rays. “But at the end of the day, I’m super excited for the opportunity. The Rays are one of the best teams in baseball.

It promises to be an emotional game for Civale, who was taken in the third round by Cleveland in 2016

Tampa Bay is searching for reliable starters, especially with Shane McClanahan (left forearm tightness) likely to miss the remainder of the season

Tyler Glasnow (back spasms) is a possibility to start on Saturday, but that’s uncertain

“We’re still kind of day to day,” manager Kevin Cash told reporters on Thursday

In the series opener, the Guardians are starting 25-year-old right-hander Xzavion Curry (3-1, 2.95)

Curry has been used mostly in the bullpen, making 25 appearances as a reliever. This will be his fifth start of the season

The Guardians used Curry as a starter on Aug. 6, and the right-hander was not involved in the decision, working five innings, while giving up two runs

Twice this season, Curry has worked as many as five innings. The other time came in relief on April 3 at the Oakland A’s

Curry pitches to contact, with 45 strikeouts in 64 innings, and he has a WHIP of 1.16

Even though Cleveland parted with some veterans at the trade deadline, they remain in striking distance of the first place Minnesota Twins in the American League Central

In their win on Thursday, two 22-year-old prospects stepped up

Third baseman Brayan Rocchio batted leadoff for the first time in the big leagues, and he had two doubles. Jose Tena, who opened the season at Double-A Akron before being moved up to Triple-A Columbus, got the nod at shortstop, and delivered two hits in three at-bats

“I’m very excited to be here,” Rocchio said postgame Thursday through an interpreter. “Especially, being given the chance to be more at third base. The only thing I’m interested in is helping the team win. I’ve be able to get more reps, and more practice at third.

Rocchio is a switch-hitter who can also play the middle infield

“He looks like, from both sides of the plate, he’s going to be able to handle himself well,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “It’s going to be interesting to see … where it goes. Because he kind of has all the tools.

–Field Level Medi

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