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Rays deal with rehabbing RHP Nathan Eovaldi makes sense

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, left, talks with president of baseball operations Matt Silverman, during the first official workout for pitchers and catchers of Spring Training at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. The Rays this morning made official their signing of Eovaldi to a one-year, $2-million deal with a 2018 option for $2-million plus incentives.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, left, talks with president of baseball operations Matt Silverman, during the first official workout for pitchers and catchers of Spring Training at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. The Rays this morning made official their signing of Eovaldi to a one-year, $2-million deal with a 2018 option for $2-million plus incentives.

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The Rays' signing of rehabbing RHP Nathan Eovaldi for $2-million raised some questions from fans wondering whey they'd commit so many dollars to a pitcher they knew wasn't going to be able to help them this season.

But it actually makes perfect sense.

The Rays see the move as an investment, as the $2-million they spend this season allowed them the chance to have a team option, also for $2-million on what is expected to be a healthy and hard-throwing Eovaldi, with the chance to earn up to another $3.5-million in incentives.
In short, they are paying $4-million over two years to a guy who, when healthy, can throMarc w 97 and work as either a starter or late-inning reliever.

"We're not going to sign him if he's not hurt; he's probably going somewhere else,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "We had some opportunity to get him. I think it's a huge credit to our training staff. If you ask Nathan, he did his homework, his group did their homework, knowing out guys are the best in baseball.''

Eovaldi said as much, that he made the decision in large part due to the success head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield and his staff have had with Tommy John rehabbers.

"They have a really good (record) for getting guys back on the field," Eovaldi said. "I've always heard about their training staff getting guys well from Tommy John. They were one of the teams that reached out and they wanted me to join the staff. Made the decision easy.''
Eovaldi had the surgery in August and said rehab has gone well, and with no setbacks, thus far. He has been doing the sock-throw drills Porterfield likes, and expects to start playing catch on Feb. 18. He said it's possible he could be pitching in minor-league or instructional league games after the summer.

"Everything feels great," he said. "I don't have any limitations of working out. ... There's no issues there. It's just taking it easy. I haven't had any issues whatsoever. No setbacks. It's just been a slow, steady process.
The Rays wanted Eovaldi enough to not only spend the money, but commit a spot on the 40-man roster - costing them knuckleballer RHP Eddie Gamboa - before putting him on the 60-day DL.
Though unsure if he will be a reliever or starter, the Rays are couning on Eovaldi to pitch in.
"We're going to get him healthy under a very watchful eye,'' Cash said. "we've got nothing but time on our side. And he's going to help us at some point later on.'

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 15, 2017 11:38am]

    

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