ST. PETERSBURG -- Since being promoted from Triple-A Durham on May 17, outfielder Kevin Kiermaier has caught everyone's attention with his hustle and his hitting.
Going into Saturday's game against the Mariners, the 24-year-old speedster, who was sent back to the Minor Leagues after two brief callups earlier this season, was leading the Rays with a .406 average. He had three home runs, four RBIs and a stolen base.
"He has had his opportunity and he has taken advantage of it," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's probably playing offensively at maybe his highest level.
"The guy loves to play. You've got to appreciate it if you are a teammate or manager or coach. You've got to go out with your eyes wide open. You've got to play with your hair on fire, just like he's doing right now. You can enjoy watching this guy play every day.
"If I'm any other player on this team and watch the way he plays and I'm not impacted by that, then my eyes are closed.
"I want to believe it's going to be very contagious," Maddon continued. "I mean, the kid plays the game the right way, the proper way."
"It's kind of how I've always been," said the left-handed-hitting Kiermaier. "I might have some unorthodox swings at times, but I can get some hits out of it sometimes. I just want to make the best of every opportunity I get. I just try to put the ball in play as much as I can. It might not look pretty sometimes, but it works every now and then."
After replacing Lueke on roster, Yates makes debut
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays designated reliever Josh Lueke for assignment Saturday and recalled right-hander Kirby Yates from Triple-A Durham.
And Joe Maddon immediately called on the 27-year-old Yates, who was 16-for-16 in save opportunities at Durham this year, to make his Major League debut with two outs in the top of the seventh inning of the Rays' 7-4 loss to the Mariners. Yates, who learned he was being called up at 1:30 a.m. ET Saturday morning and flew to St. Petersburg before the game, pitched 1 1/3 perfect innings, striking out two.
"Today was kind of mellow," Yates said after the game. "I think I got all my emotions out last night. I was just having fun out there. I wasn't nervous."
"Yates threw the ball extremely well," Maddon said. "He's got an explosive fastball that jumps on hitters. He has earned this opportunity. He could be a major pitcher for many years."
Lueke was 1-2 with a 5.64 ERA in 25 games for the Rays.
"I swear I don't know why it didn't work out," said Maddon when asked what went wrong with Lueke. "He's attempted to do everything we asked him to do. He actually did a lot of things well, but without a lot of results. We felt we had to do something.
"We really thought Lueke was part of our future. I think we gave him ample opportunity. It still may happen for him. He's got that kind of stuff."
• Jose Molina's sacrifice fly Friday was his first RBI in 100 at-bats, dating back to Sept. 23, 2013.
"There's a lot that statistically could be made up for there," Maddon said.
• Jake McGee bounced back from Thursday's shaky outing by striking out the side in the seventh inning on Friday.
"He is our one true All-Star," Maddon said. "If you're playing an All-Star Game and having to win it, this guy could come out of the 'pen and get righties and lefties out at a very high degree. Hopefully, everybody else is paying attention."
Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.