Fuld closes gap, leaves mouths agape

Fuld closes gap, leaves mouths agape

CHICAGO -- Sam Fuld made the Rays' defensive play of the year Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Rays, the play went for naught as they took a 4-2 loss to the White Sox.

Fuld, who was acquired in the trade that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs, has been a solid contributor to the team thus far -- particularly on defense.

He has been playing left field, but he made his first start of the season in right field on Saturday, which allowed him to come up with the fielding gem.

The situation the Rays faced saw Juan Pierre hitting with two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth. Pierre connected on one of Wade Davis' offerings and drove the ball into the corner near the wall in right field. Fuld gave chase before leaving his feet at the last instant to make the diving, back-handed catch on the warning track.

"I had Juan shifted way over in right-center and [toward center field], too," Fuld said. "But I also know that every now and then he turns on a ball, and that's exactly what he did. I knew I had to put my head down and just run to a spot where I thought it was going to be.

"I didn't really pick my head up until the end and luckily it was basically where I thought it would be. And I still didn't know if I would get to it. Obviously, in that situation, bases loaded and two outs, you want to do whatever you can possibly do to make the catch."

Rays center fielder B.J. Upton watched and marveled at what he saw.

"Oh my god, oh my," Upton said. "I thought he was going to dive into the [wall]. But he kind of straightened out. I was hoping he would get there. I mean, full extension, I couldn't really tell if he caught it or not. I just saw him roll over and throw his glove up.

"I knew he had a shot at it. I didn't know how far away he was from it. I was screaming from center field when he caught it. 'Great catch!' Should be play of the year so far."

Rays manager Joe Maddon noted that Fuld has saved the Rays many runs over the last few days with his outfield play.

"His defense has been spectacular -- tremendous defense," Maddon said. "He's pretty much a clinician out there. He pretty much does everything right."

Davis said he did not have the words to describe Fuld's effort.

"I've never seen a catch that good in person," Davis said. "That was huge."

White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski noted that somebody had told him that Fuld was "really good in the outfield."

"And he's made some nice plays against us these three games, but that catch he made off of Juan Pierre is one of the best catches I've ever seen," Pierzynski said. "Honestly, he ran like 50 yards to get to that ball. It was an incredible catch and I tip my hat to him for, one, he didn't kill himself on the fence and, two, he got there and made the play. It was an amazing play."

Afterward, Fuld's arms and legs were bloodied from sliding across the warning track's hard surface.

"I mean it stings a little bit," said Fuld of his wounds. "But it's just a cut, nothing beyond a few bloody arms and knees."

At the end of the day, Fuld conceded that his catch was one of the better ones he's made in his career.

"Obviously, you want to get the 'W', but for that moment, it was a pretty big one," he said.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.