ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays recalled infielder Reid Brignac from Triple-A Durham on Thursday, adding depth to the middle infield positions with Monday's doubleheader against the Yankees approaching.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said the move to bring up Brignac, who has had two stints with Tampa Bay already this season, was primarily to give shortstop Jason Bartlett one of the games off on Monday, and to allow the team to avoid having to use utility man Ben Zobrist at short.
"I want to make us a little deeper in the middle," Maddon said. "I want to refrain possibly from using Zobrist at short if necessary. So having an extra shortstop for sure in Brignac I thought was helpful."
Maddon insisted it was not a precautionary move for second baseman Akinori Iwamura, who returned last week after missing 81 games with a left knee injury. Iwamura was not in Thursday's original starting lineup, but he was pressed into action in the fifth inning when B.J. Upton exited with a left ankle injury and Zobrist, who started at second, moved to center field.
"Having a regular shortstop and not forcing Zobrist into that role right now I thought would be wise," Maddon said.
On Monday, with a Labor Day doubleheader in New York, Bartlett will be given a rest for one of the games and Brignac, not Zobrist, will start at shortstop. Brignac batted .282 with eight home runs, 44 RBIs and 28 doubles in 96 games with Triple-A Durham this season. He also hit .277 in 22 games with the Rays in two previous stints.
The Rays also announced that reliever Joe Nelson accepted his assignment and will remain at Durham. Nelson was designated for assignment on Tuesday.
Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.