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Jose Siri: The Rays, His Necklace, And Overall Play

Jose Siri - Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

FLUSHING, NY — Jose Siri and the Tampa Bay Rays will pack their bags and return home Thursday afternoon after concluding a seven game cross-town New York meeting with the Yankees and Mets. The 27-year-old center fielder (Sabana, Grande de Boya, Dominican Republic) wore a custom made necklace full of purple rhinestones.

He and Yankees rookie Oswaldo Cabrera, (Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic) members of the Rays bullpen, and Nick Gordon of the Twins don’t sport the custom made necklaces as a good luck charm or for making a statement.

“Made 16 of them, Oswaldo and I kind of started it,” Siri said through a translator in the Rays clubhouse Wednesday evening at Citi Field. “Something different, It looks bright and good. I forget my pink one.”

He wore purple rhinestones. Cabrera and teammate Wander Franco (Bani, Dominican Republic) often change colors. Siri is not looking to begin a fashion jewelry business, nor is this one of those good luck charms or superstitions that ballplayers are known for.

“Good luck, we use Jesus for that,” he said with a smile. The Rays, though, could have used some luck Wednesday. evening. Mets rookies Mark Vientos and Francisco Álvarez, with game-trying two and three run homers got to the Rays bullpen in their 10th inning come from behind 8-7 win.

Jose Siri – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

A disappointing loss for the Rays and still with the best record in baseball. They don’t lose many games like this and their one flaw is a bullpen that could need some help. The offense, though, still led baseball in all offensive categories, including a Major League leading 86 home runs.

Brandon Lowe hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the eighth inning, Siri hit his sixth in the 7th inning, consecutive home runs for the second time in his career. The struggling Mets got a needed and possible turnaround win that was a highlight for them.

Again, the custom made necklace is not attributed to the Rays success. A fashion statement on the field has nothing to do with a Jose Siri home run ball, or a backhand grab in center off a full sprint run that denied Jeff McNeil an extra base hit in the sixth inning.

“We focus on the little things and take care of our pitchers as well,” Siri said about the Rays early season success that has them atop the Al East standings at 32-12, a pace that could result in 110 wins.

For sure, as Siri said, an entire team effort. The Rays take the field and have that confidence. They have shown their ability of constantly making contact with good at-bats. They work the count, get timely hits, and use that home run ball to their advantage.

Tampa Bay Rays – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

They have enjoyed their stay in New York, one of those rare times during this revamped 162-game schedule of 30 teams playing a series against each other in the same city. The Rays avoided travel this week with their normal trip to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. They stayed in their midtown hotel, had a day off Monday, and went across the bridge for an interleague encounter with Mets.

Siri, in his third season, was obtained in a trade last August with the Houston Astros. Since the beginning of 2022, his 15 outs above average are second among all MLB outfielders. He homered off Gerrit Cole last week in the Bronx that ended the Yankees ace homerless streak of 51.0 innings to start the season.

Jose Siri – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

So the power numbers are there, two of his last four home runs have come on the first pitch. He also has speed at the bottom of the Rays lineup, and that range in the outfield to deny McNeil was noticed.

New rules, including a pitch clock, have not changed his approach at the plate, though you keep hearing about players asking for revisions that MLB is constantly addressing.

“No difference,” he said. “If anything, to be a little more concerned you have to be in the box. If anything adjust to the rules.”

And with a roster composed of a Latino contingent, all-stars and leading the league in those offensive categories, Siri is comfortable with the Rays. The necklace is one aspect of a team that thrives on their bond of being teammates and coming with a diversity of Latino culture. He notes instances of circumstances playing out on the field. He referred to Christian Bethancourt (Panama, City, Panama).

Christian Bethancourt – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

To that, Siri said, “It’s great because of the communication. If Ben strikes out he explains or something happens he explains to me this pitch that pitch.”

Siri, too, is proud of his heritage. This season players from the Dominican Republic are dominating MLB rosters. He says there is a reason for.

“Obvious,” he said. “the way baseball is different over there. Guys 13, 14- years old can sign. Here they are 21, sign out of universities. We been playing baseball our whole lives. That’s what we do.”

Wander Franco, of Bani, Dominican Republic – Image Credit: Bill Menzel/Latino Sports

He said his success is due to concentration and dedication. The big leagues here require a lot of adjustments.

Aware of the Latino Sports MVP awards, Siri said “it’s a lot of motivation and helps to give 100 percent on the field. I am proud to be a Dominican and help the Rays win. We have the players here to keep winning. The award I hear is something to be proud of being recognized and I look to one day receive the honor.”

In the meantime look for the Jose Siri necklace. And take note of the accomplishments as the Rays continue to strive and play deep baseball in October.

Rich Mancuso Co-Editor and Senior Writer Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso.

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