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2-way player McKay making hitting debut with Rays

July 1, 2019
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Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Brendan McKay throws against the Texas Rangers in the second inning of his Major League debut in a baseball game Saturday, June 29, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
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Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Brendan McKay throws against the Texas Rangers in the second inning of his Major League debut in a baseball game Saturday, June 29, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay Rays two-way player Brendan McKay is scheduled to make his hitting debut against the Baltimore Orioles two days after winning his first appearance as a starting pitcher.

McKay was in the lineup as the designated hitter Monday night and batting eighth.

“It’s great,” McKay said. “You get to get everything out of the way quick and then you get those out of the way and then you’re free to just relax and have fun and play.”

The left-hander took a perfect game into the sixth inning in his big league debut Saturday against Texas. He was pulled after allowing one hit over six scoreless innings.

“I’m excited to see him hit,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We saw a really, really good pitching performance. If he can do that at the plate, we’ve got something working, I guess.”

McKay, a first baseman limited to DH this season, hit .216 (96 for 444) with 14 homers and 79 RBIs over three minor league seasons. After a promotion this year from Double-A Montgomery, he had a .265 average (13 for 49) with four homers and 10 RBIs at Triple-A Durham.

McKay is scheduled to pitch again Friday night against the AL East-leading New York Yankees.

“There’s satisfaction in knowing that you’re going to get a chance to do both,” McKay said.

McKay will be available to pinch-hit on days he doesn’t pitch or DH. He will have a bullpen session Tuesday.

“I’m still learning and asking questions kind of on the fly here,” Cash said.

The Rays have another two-way player on the horizon at Durham with Jake Cronenworth. The infielder entered Monday hitting .338 with nine homers and 38 RBIs, while allowing two unearned runs and four hits over 6 1/3 innings in six games.

Cronenworth has pitched as an opener five times and last week started a game at shortstop before pitching 1 1/3 relief innings.

“Look at what he’s done offensively, and the pitching makes him that much more interesting of a player that can help a major league team,” Cash said.

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