August 03, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) The timing of Richie Shaffer's phone call home on Sunday wasn't perfect. The news he was delivering, however, couldn't have been better.

After being told he would make his major league debut Monday night in Chicago against the White Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays' 24-year-old top draft pick in 2012 who has hit 23 home runs this season in the minors phoned his parents.

His parents - loyal viewers of the Rays' Triple-A Durham affiliate - couldn't figure why Shaffer was calling when he did.

Shaffer - who was pulled from Durham's game in the seventh inning and who was hitting .265 with 16 home runs in 55 games at Triple-A - started yelling into the phone he was big league bound.

''They were freaking out,'' Shaffer said Monday.

Shaffer was immediately inserted into the starting lineup at first base and hitting sixth. He takes the roster spot of left-handed pitcher Matt Moore, who was sent to Triple-A.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said Shaffer will play both first and third base.

''This is a guy who has come a long way in a short period of time,'' Cash said.

''It's a great opportunity for him. This will be a big night he won't forget. There will be some nerves, but hopefully, we can slide him in there and provide some comfort and he can just pick up what he's been doing in Durham.''

Shaffer, whose parents, brother and fiancee made the trip from North Carolina to witness Richie's big league debut, will attempt to keep his promotion in perspective and focus on helping the Rays win. But he knows that will take time.

''I'm going to try and treat (Monday's debut) as much as I can as just another game,'' Shaffer said. ''I doubt that will successfully happen.''

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