ST. PETERSBURG -- Russ Canzler and Dane De La Rosa arrived at Tropicana Field on Sunday after getting called up from Triple-A Durham.
Canzler, who plays the corner infield and outfield positions, was named the 2011 International League's Most Valuable Player after batting .312 with 18 home runs and 79 RBIs. He received similar honors at the Triple-A All-Star Game, where his three-run homer was the difference in a 3-0 contest.
"It's just funny the way this year worked out," Canzler said. "I went into my first year in Triple-A and really just wanted to prove I was worthy of the opportunity and worthy of the every day at-bats I was getting. To be standing here now, I would definitely be lying to say that I expected this."
This will be Canzler's first experience with the Major League club. The Rays designated for assignment right-hander Mike Ekstrom to clear space for Canzler on the 40-man roster.
Canzler, 25, signed with the Rays as a Minor League free agent on Nov. 19 after spending all of his professional career in the Cubs' organization.
"Looking back on it, I think it was just the opportunity [the Rays] gave me to come to Major League camp, where the organization was going," said Canzler when asked why he chose to sign with Tampa Bay. "I knew they were losing a few guys to free agency, that sort of thing. I felt like it was an opportunity for me to get into big league camp and make an impression, hopefully show that I belong and can help them win at the Major League level."
De La Rosa, 28, went 6-5 with a 3.20 ERA in 52 appearances with the Bulls. He had 83 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings and had six saves. De La Rosa also was with the Rays from July 19-21, going 0-0 with a 3.83 ERA after making one appearance on July 29.
De La Rosa has a fastball that hits 94 mph and exhibits good movement with his curveball. He noted that he didn't plan to try anything different when on the mound.
"Just trying to do more of the same thing, stay consistent," De La Rosa said. "I'm not going to change anything."
Manager Joe Maddon didn't have a definite plan regarding how either of the players would be used.