Manager Joe Maddon believes the Rays will see a resurrected RHP Andy Sonnanstine when he returns from Triple-A Durham tonight to pitch against the Red Sox.
The former starter was 6-7 with a 6.61 ERA when the Rays sent him down June 27. He had allowed the most earned runs in the AL (60) and the second-highest opponent's average (.305), although he won three of his five June starts.
That was a major drop-off from his breakthrough 2008 season, in which he started 10-3, wound up 13-9 with a 4.38 ERA and won two of his three starts in the postseason.
At Durham, Sonnanstine posted a 5-3 record with a 4.40 ERA in nine starts. He allowed only seven walks and had seven quality starts.
"The biggest difference I'm hearing is he's a little more effective against right-handed hitters," Maddon said. "When he first came up, he was much better against righties. We were concerned about lefties, and all of a sudden, he flipped it. He became very good against lefties and lost his mojo against the righties.
"We sent him back down there with some specific ideas and instructions, and apparently, he's done a lot better."
The improvement is relative, though. Righties still hit .323 against Sonnanstine in Triple-A (lefties hit .270), and the 26-year-old's ERA with runners in scoring position was a disconcerting 13.50, according to minorleaguebaseball.com stats.
Far more encouraging is how Sonnanstine has pitched against Boston. In two September starts against Josh Beckett last year, he plowed through 14 innings without allowing a run. He didn't get the decision in either start, but the Rays won both games.
Sonnanstine also beat Tim Wakefield in Game 4 of the ALCS last October (13-4) and Justin Masterson in May this year (6-2).
Three more call-ups: OF Fernando Perez, C Shawn Riggans and RHP Jeff Bennett will join Sonnanstine today in the first wave of September call-ups. Maddon called it the first salvo and said additional moves are coming.
Perez, who probably would have been on the Opening Day roster if he hadn't broken his wrist during spring training, gives the Rays another outfielder and speed off the bench. Riggans returns after missing 97 games on the DL with shoulder tendinitis.
Riggans got the call over Michel Hernandez because he's already on the 40-man roster, and Bennett was chosen over fellow relievers Joe Nelson and Dale Thayer because he has been starting and is more stretched out.
Maddon said that with 10 games against the Red Sox, Tigers and Yankees coming up in the next nine days, including a doubleheader Monday at New York, he wanted a second reliever available for long relief (Lance Cormier is the other).
Odds and ends: Although 3B Evan Longoria matched a season high with three runs scored, he also set a club record in the eighth inning Monday when he grounded into his 25th double play of the season. ... OF Desmond Jennings, who was promoted to Durham on Aug. 1, on Monday was named the Southern League's 2009 Most Valuable Player. He hit .316 and stole 37 bases for Double-A Montgomery and is the third Biscuits player to earn the honor in five years (OF Delmon Young, 2005, and Longoria, 2007, are the others).