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Casali singles in first big league at-bat

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Casali singles in first big league at-bat play video for Casali singles in first big league at-bat

MINNEAPOLIS -- Curt Casali arrived in Minneapolis on Friday and made his Major League debut as the Rays' starting catcher in Friday night's 6-2 win over the Twins.

Casali wasted no time contributing as he singled in his first at-bat in the third inning and came around to score on Evan Longoria's three-run double.

The Rays placed catcher Ryan Hanigan on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a left oblique strain.

To take Hanigan's spot on the active roster, the Rays selected Casali's contract from Triple-A Durham. Tampa Bay moved outfielder Wil Myers (right wrist fracture) to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster. Myers is eligible to return on July 30, but is more likely due back in mid-August.

Hanigan's stint was made retroactive to July 9 as he sat out Tampa Bay's final four games before the All-Star break, but Rays manager Joe Maddon couldn't guarantee that Hanigan will be back after the minimum 15 days.

"[It's] hard to describe for me," Casali said of the feeling of making his Major League debut. "My Triple-A manager made a pretty cool gesture yesterday and told me in front of the whole team before stretching. That made it more memorable in my eyes. I'm just really excited to finally be here and hopefully give this team a chance to win and keep the success going like they have."

Casali hit in the eighth spot in his debut.

"Excitement again," said Casali about getting in the lineup right away. "I heard from a bunch of the guys [Maddon] likes to throw the new guys into the fire pretty quickly. There was a chance in the back of my mind it might happen. And it did. Talked to [Friday night's starter Alex] Cobb already and I'm ready to go."

The Rays acquired Casali on March 25, 2013 in a trade that sent left-hander Kyle Lobstein to the Tigers. He began the '13 season at Class A Advanced Charlotte and finished at Double-A Montgomery, where he began the '14 season before getting promoted to Triple-A Durham in early May.

"It has been a crazy year to say the least," Casali said. "Everything has kind of come together like I hoped it would. Just trying to show these guys what I can do and thank them for the opportunity."

Like David Price, Casali attended Vanderbilt University, which already had bonded the pair.

"I've known Curt for a very long time," Price said. "The dude works hard. Vanderbilt guy, we're brought up the right way. So I don't have any doubts about him. I saw him all the time in the offseason."

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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