Rays rookies make their mark

The Sports Xchange

June 04, 2015 at 2:09 am.

Joey Butler (9) has been a pleasant surprise for the Rays. (Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Tampa Bay Rays are young this season everywhere, both on the field and in the dugout.

Manager Kevin Cash, 37, is the youngest manager in the majors since Arizona had 34-year-old A.J. Hinch in 2009. Cash was a teammate of Rays rookie outfielder Joey Butler in 2011 when they both played for Triple-A Round Rock, a Texas Rangers affiliate.

On the field, the Rays have used 15 rookies this season, tops in the majors, and they currently have seven on the major league roster.

Their inexperience, however, has not been a hindrance, at least so far. After their 6-5, 10-inning win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday, the Rays are in second place in the American League East, one game behind the New York Yankees.

A big part of their success can be attributed to three rookies in particular — outfielders Steven Souza Jr. and Butler, and pitcher Nathan Karns. All three received votes for the AL Rookie of the Month award for May, won by the Texas Rangers’ Delino DeShields Jr.

Souza leads all AL rookies with 11 homers and is second with 25 RBIs. Butler leads all AL rookies in batting average (.337) and slugging percentage (.547). Karns, despite allowing four runs in five innings Wednesday against the Angels, leads AL rookies with a 3.63 ERA and .202 opponents’ batting average.

“I think we’re flying under the radar, and we like it,” Souza said. “We’re going to keep playing our game. I don’t know when the point is where teams take us serious, but we’re going to go about our business the same way since day one, and we’re having a blast.”