DETROIT -- Mikie Mahtook might not be Kevin Kiermaier on defense, but the athletic outfielder -- recalled from Triple-A Durham to replace the Rays' standout center fielder -- might be a better contributor on offense.
Mahtook, 26, had six stints with the Rays and started 24 games at the three outfield spots in 2015. His final callup to the team came on Sept. 1, and from that point on, the Louisiana native showed the skills that enticed the Rays to select him in the first round of the 2011 Draft.
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For the month of September, Mahtook hit .356, which was the second-highest average posted by a Rays rookie in a calendar month, trailing Rocco Baldelli in April 2003 (.368).
Included in Mahtook's September run were five home runs in his final 23 at-bats, and on Sept. 18 against the Orioles, he set a Rays rookie record with five hits, going 5-for-5 with two doubles. Overall, Mahtook hit .295 with nine home runs and 19 RBIs in 41 games.
"Mikie is actually coming off an [oblique] injury himself," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "But he's come back. He's played seven games. He's swung the bat well. I think we all know what he did when he came up in September. If he's anything close to that, we're in a good spot."
Mahtook was activated on May 13 after being out for almost a month with an oblique injury. He was hitting .333 with a home run, five RBIs and a .903 OPS through 20 games at Durham this season.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.