Reyes placed on 15-day DL; Birkins activated
The injuries keep on coming. Rays reliever Al Reyes was put on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with right shoulder impingement, akin to inflammation.
Essentially, impingement happens when the rotator cuff muscle swells, leading to pain when a pitcher reaches his arm back.
Reyes will be replaced by LHP Kurt Birkins, who was activated from the DL after coming off successful rehab of left elbow neuritis. Reyes said he started feeling the discomfort in his last two-to-three outings, a feeling similar, but less serious than the shoulder injury which sidelined him last season. Manager Joe Maddon said Reyes could be back in less than the 15 days, but the stay was long enough he needed to make a move.
Reyes, the Rays primary setup man, was 1-2 this season with a 9.00 E.R.A. The 38-year-old righthander last pitched on Monday, giving up the game-winning homer to Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. In his place, look to see more of Dan Wheeler in the setup role, with Trever Miller and Gary Glover also getting some late-inning work. Maddon said Birkins could also be used in the long role, similar to what J.P. Howell has been doing, making Howell available for more situational matchup stuff.
Reyes will be the ninth Ray on the disabled list.
Birkins has been on the disabled list since spring training, when he suffered the nerve injury to his throwing elbow. The Rays said he's expected to join the team here in Minneapolis, where the Rays begin a two-game series against the Twins. Birkins was all smiles when he arrived (flight got in at 4:30 pm), saying he got the call at 11:30 p.m. the night before; he was all packed to make the drive to Durham.
Some other pre-game news and notes:
*C Dioner Navarro's rehab game today at extended spring went well, with him catching behind the plate, even throwing out a runner trying to steal. Maddon said he didn't hit, because he needed to get wrapped up a little more, but Navarro is still on schedule for his slated return, likely early next week.
That'll leave an interesting decision for backup catcher, with Mike DiFelice performing so well, making it a tough call between him and Shawn Riggans.
*RHP Matt Garza is scheduled for a bullpen session Thursday in St. Petersburg; if it goes well, Garza (radial nerve irritation) would move to a start at Vero Beach on Sunday...
*RHP Juan Salas, who has been infamously stuck in the Dominican Republic due to visa issues, is expected to arrive at the Naimoli Complex Thursday in St. Petersburg. Salas would have competed for a bullpen spot in the spring, but now that he's here, we'll likely hear word tommorrow on the where he'll be optioned to.
A slight switch in the lineup, Maddon moved B.J. Upton to the third spot, calling it a Pena "sandwich;" the reason was to give the Twins something to think about matchup wise, breaking up the left-handed bats at the top of the order..
-- JOE SMITH