ST. PETERSBURG -- Pitcher Jeff Niemann made his final Minor League rehab start Tuesday with Triple-A Durham.
The 6-foot-9 right-hander has been on the 15-day disabled list since suffering a lower back injury on May 4. Manager Joe Maddon said Niemann could return to the Rays' starting rotation to pitch on Monday against Milwaukee, meaning Alex Cobb will make one more start on Saturday.
Niemann turned in 5 1/3 scoreless innings for the Bulls on Tuesday, striking out four batters and surrendering just three hits. He threw 92 pitches.
Before he went down with the injury, Niemann was 1-4 with a 5.74 ERA.
Ruggiano taking full advantage of opportunity
ST. PETERSBURG -- When Justin Ruggiano was designated for assignment prior to Spring Training to make room for Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, he didn't know what to make of his future.
"When you're taken off the roster, you're not really sure what's next," Ruggiano said. "For me it was the first time, so I'm just really grateful to be here."
His appreciation has been evident.
Tampa Bay's outfielder has taken full advantage of the opportunity since being called up from the Minors on May 20. He is hitting .372, with three home runs and nine RBIs in 43 at-bats this season. Those numbers include a 2-for-4 performance at the plate and a solo homer off Boston knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield in the Rays' 4-0 win Tuesday.
Ruggiano has played in Tampa Bay's last eight games and has recorded at least one hit in every one of them. He has posted a .484 batting average, to go along with six RBIs and five extra-base hits in that span.
"A big reason why I've been playing him so much is that he's not chasing pitches," manager Joe Maddon said. "That's the one thing that stands out to me about him. He's not expanding his strike zone."
Maddon has seen "a different type of person" in the 29-year-old this season. The numbers back that statement up, as Ruggiano hit just .197 in 76 at-bats in 2008 -- his last stint with the Rays.
"He's looking like he can be a guy that can play more often than we have in the past," Maddon said. "That's all to his credit. There's nothing that I have done or we have done to get get him to this point. This is all Justin coming to a realization and doing something about it on his own."
Rays sign second-round pick Goetzman
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays announced the signing of second-round pick Granden Goetzman before Tuesday's game against the Red Sox.
The 75th overall pick will now be traveling down to Port Charlotte to play in the Gulf Coast League. But like all Rays draft picks, he has his sights set on the Major Leagues.
"This is the start of my dream," Goetzman said. "Tropicana Field is the goal."
The outfielder out of Palmetto High School, which is located about 22 miles away from where the Rays play their home games, is already familiar with Tropicana Field, attending multiple Tampa Bay games as a fan. Goetzman also participated in a pre-Draft workout there less than a week before the 2011 First-Year Player Draft on June 6.
"I felt [Tampa Bay] had interest, like other clubs did also," he said. "On Draft day, I got calls from the Rays, so I felt like I was going to end up here."
Over the weekend, the Rays also announced the signings of outfielder James Rice, first baseman Cameron Seitzer, shortstop Taylor Motter, right-handed pitchers Andy Bass, Charles Cononie, Zachary Butler, Dave Kubiak, Lucas Irvine, Brooks Belter, Stayton Thomas and Garret Smith, third baseman Ryan Terry, outfielder Matthew Johnson, second baseman Raymond Church, second baseman Jonathan Koscso, left-hander Theron Geith, and catchers Brandon Choate, Michael Bourdon and Ian Tomkins.
Anthony Chiang is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.