Rays report: Christian Bethancourt catching, batting third vs. Red Sox

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ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are putting newcomer Christian Bethancourt right into the AL East battle, starting him behind the plate and batting him third for tonight’s game against the Red Sox.

With ace Boston lefty Chris Sale making his first start of the season after an extended injury rehab, the Rays went with a heavily right-handed lineup, with just two lefties, first baseman Ji-Man Choi and centerfielder Brett Phillips.

Bethancourt, acquired Saturday in a trade from Oakland, hasn’t caught since June 23, but manager Kevin Cash said he had a good workday Monday with catching coach Paul Hoover and should do fine.

“Hoov was excited just with the work, really excited that he, even though he hadn’t had many maybe games behind the plate here as of late, he’s been doing consistent catching work and drills in between, catching bullpens,” Cash said. “So I would expect it’ll be a pretty seamless transition for him.”

Also a benefit is that the Rays are starting veteran Corey Kluber, who is more experienced in working with new catchers.

Also Tuesday:

• Lefty Josh Fleming, who left Monday’s game with right oblique tightness, was placed on the injured list, the Rays’ majors-most 16th player to be sidelined, and reliever Luke Bard, who worked three innings Monday, was sent down. Ralph Garza Jr. and Tommy Romero were called up.

• Shortstop Wander Franco on Tuesday underwent surgery in St. Petersburg, performed by Dr. Doug Carlan, to remove and repair the hamate bone in his right hand that he fractured on a swing Saturday. He posted an Instagram story that showed him back home after the procedure with the message, “Thank God for every moment.”

Here is the Rays lineup:

And for the Red Sox:

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