BALTIMORE -- Justin Ruggiano is one of the Rays' feel-good stories of the season.
Prior to Spring Training, the 29-year-old outfielder was designated for assignment, along with Leslie Anderson, to make room for Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. Ruggiano cleared waivers, returned to Triple-A Durham, and kept his mind on baseball.
While at Durham, he batted .308 with six home runs and 30 RBIs before being selected by the Rays on May 20. He has now come full circle, playing well enough for the Rays that he hit in the No. 3 spot on Sunday against the Orioles.
"The batting order, you never know, you show up every day and you don't know where you'll be hitting," Ruggiano said. "But yeah, it's good, it's comforting knowing that I'm getting an opportunity to play on an everyday basis. It's a lot easier to play when you know you have the chances more consistently [and] you're able to make the adjustments. It's a lot easier to hit if you play every day, obviously."
Not only is Ruggiano a feel-good story, he can serve as an inspiration for anybody in the Rays' farm system.
"When you get a guy like him, who has been on the roster a long time, has been part of your situation, then you take him off the roster and he earns his way back on -- and now he's playing well and is a big part of what we're doing," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
"Our guys have to understand when we tell them that this is the way it is right now, but we haven't forgotten you. We still like you. If you go back out and do the right things and the match is right, we'll bring you back up."
Ruggiano went 1-for-4 on Saturday, and was hitting .290 with two home runs and seven RBIs heading into play on Sunday. He also robbed J.J. Hardy of a home run late in Saturday night's 7-5 win over Baltimore.
Maddon said Ruggiano "definitely feels more like he belongs right now."
"He does look more relaxed," Maddon said.
"That's an example maybe of maturity. He might fall under that category."