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Notes: Paul back in fold

Notes: Paul back in fold

ST. PETERSBURG -- Josh Paul has returned from his rehabilitation assignment, and the Devil Rays reinstated the veteran catcher from the 60-day disabled list on Friday.

Paul has been shelved since May 20 with a left elbow strain he suffered on a play at the plate on May 19 against the Marlins.

To clear room for Paul, the Rays designated catcher Raul Casanova for assignment. The Rays now have 10 days to trade, release or ask waivers on him.

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Rays manager Joe Maddon has noted time and again that he thought Paul was playing at a high level when he got injured, and he now plans to play him three to four times a week rather than the normal one or two times a week reserved for most backup catchers.

"This is the kind of opportunity I've been looking forward to my whole career," Paul said. "I'm really looking forward to it."

Paul is hitting .245 with no home runs and five RBIs in 15 games this season.

Casanova hit .260 with six home runs and 10 RBIs in 21 games -- including an infield hit in his final at-bat on Thursday at Baltimore. Casanova said, "Nobody wants this," but he managed to keep his sense of humor.

"I showed everything I got: power and speed, [and] I'm handsome," Casanova said. "But on a serious note, I have a broken heart."

However, Casanova was encouraged by the way he played.

"I know [the Rays] know I did a good job for them," he said. "I'm happy about what I've done here. They gave me a chance. I'm going to miss the guys."

Casanova plans to remain in the area with his family while he waits to see if another team claims him. If that doesn't happen, he would like to finish out the season at Triple-A Durham if afforded the opportunity.

"I spoke to Raul," Maddon said. "I wanted to tell him how well I thought he played."

Maddon complimented Casanova for being the consummate professional and said he thought Casanova showed he could be a quality backup catcher at the Major League level.

Riggans surgery: Shawn Riggans had surgery Friday to have a "loose body" removed from his right elbow. The Rays catcher has missed 49 games since going on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow tendinitis on June 4.

"Another setback for [Riggans]," said Maddon, who noted Riggans had some hard luck this season because the Rays were in a position to give him a good look at the Major Leagues had he been healthy.

Fossum ready: Casey Fossum's wife, Kim, gave birth to the couple's third child, Andrew Casey Fossum, on Tuesday. The Rays left-hander missed the Baltimore series to be with his wife.

Fossum reports the mother and baby are both fine and that having the birth behind him has eased his mind. Fossum said he was available for action Friday night.

Difference for Shields: Maddon is pleased with the way Saturday night's starter, James Shields, has been progressing. The young right-hander is using a cutter more often, and he has refined his curveball.

"I like the cutter," Maddon said. "I think it's been a great pitch for him. When it's a fastball count, and he can throw it 91, 91 [mph], now he throws it 87 with a little cut. That gets into the hitter's mind a little bit. He can throw it to both righties and lefties. So this year, it's pretty much been the addition of that, plus the curveball has gotten so much better -- he basically has four pitches right now. Last year, he pitched primarily with two."

Rookie of the Month bid: Delmon Young leads all Major League rookies in batting in July with a .365 average (31-for-85). So far this decade, only two rookies have finished with a better July: Anaheim's Robb Quinlan (2004) at .407 and Baltimore's Nick Markakis (2006) at .403.

Up next: The Rays will play the second game of their three-game series against the Red Sox on Saturday night in a 7:10 ET contest at Tropicana Field. Shields will start for the Rays and will be opposed by left-hander Jon Lester.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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