When the Rays face off with the Reds tonight, it won't just be the team's third interleague series of the year.
For only the second time in his big-league career, second baseman Scooter Gennett — who made history two weeks ago by hitting four home runs in one game — will make the journey to the Trop.
At age 10, Gennett and his family moved from Cincinnati to Sarasota so he could play baseball year-round. In Florida, Gennett blossomed into one of the top prep players in the nation. He starred for Sarasota High School, slashing .470/.542/.771 in 27 games during his senior year.
Drafted by the Brewers in the 16th round of the 2009 draft, Gennett passed up a Florida State scholarship to start as a professional. He worked his way through the minors, making his MLB debut on June 3, 2013.
In four years and 1,637 plate appearances for Milwaukee, Gennett posted a .279/.318/.420 batting line and started 380 games at second base. He played two games against the Rays in Tropicana Field on July 28 and 29, 2014.
But for 2017, the Brewers chose to go with Jonathan Villar at the keystone, sending Gennett to the waiver wire. The Reds picked him up in March, and two months later, he became the 17th player in MLB history to hit four home runs in a game, with a 5-for-5, 10-RBI performance against the Cardinals.
Before his explosion against St. Louis, Gennett was hitting .270/.308/.450 over 117 plate appearances. Since that game, he's at .222/.250/.370 in 28 trips to the dish. Thanks to that breakout game, though, he owns an impressive .287/.320/.538 triple-slash for the year as a whole.
Now Gennett's hometown team — the one he cheered for when he was a kid — will face the local club from the area where he made a name for himself. Regardless of how many long balls he whacks, the homecoming should be a memorable one for the Ohioan-turned-Floridian.
An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the Rays-Reds series would be Tampa Bay's second interleague series of the year.