ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Drew Smyly returns to the mound tonight after being skipped over during the last turn through the rotation. It was the first time the Rays did that with a starting pitcher this season, and it won't be the last.
"(With the four-man rotation) those guys really never got a day here, a day there like they normally would have," pitching coach Jim Hickey said before Tuesday's game. "We'll do the same things with the other guys coming up, probably relatively soon."
The Rays have an off day on the upcoming road trip. They also have RHP Matt Andriese, who has made seven starts, in the bullpen, and manager Kevin Cash said that Andriese will likely get another start this season.
That combination could be used to give one or more starters extra rest between starts.
"We do it every year," Hickey said. "It's just early right now."
Smyly, who pitches tonight for the first time in 10 days, said he was glad to have the rest.
"I was obviously in a little bit of a slump so I just think the team used it as the time to give me a few extra days," he said. "It really only translates to three extra days rest. I feel fine, but I'll take it, take a breather and get right back out there."
The down time allowed Smyly the opportunity to throw an extra bullpen session and work on his breaking pitches, which have not been as sharp as late.
"I think him feeling a little bit more energized is going to help," Hickey said.
SOUZA LEAVES WITH INJURY: RF Steven Souza Jr. left Tuesday's game in the seventh inning with left-hip soreness. He missed a diving attempt on a sinking liner by DH Nelson Cruz and limped as he chased after the ball. "I think right now it doesn't look too bad. We'll know more tomorrow," Souza said. X-rays were negative.
THIRD-ROUND PICK SIGNS: The Rays signed five draft picks, including third round pick RHP Austin Franklin from Paxton (Fla.) High.He signed for $600,000, which is under the $676,200 suggested bonus for that slot (90th pick). "When I got drafted it didn't seem real. It felt like a dream," Franklin said. "But once I signed the contract it finally set it, and I'm eager to get going." The Rays also signed RHP Brandon Lawson of USF (12th round), RHP Joe Serrapica (24), C Jean Ramirez (28) and SS Deion Tansel (32).
KARNS RETURNS: RHP Nathan Karns, voted the 2015 Rays rookie of the year by the Tampa Bay chapter of the BBWAA, faces his old team tonight when he makes his 13th start of the season for the Mariners. Asked if this is a special outing, Karms said, "It's different in that it's the most former teammates in a lineup that I'll face, where I can sit there and compete against guys that I joked around with and said, 'What if we faced (each other)?' Now we finally get those answers and see whose smack talk is going to get backed up. It's going to be fun."
MEDICAL MATTERS: RHP Ryan Webb (right pectoral strain) is scheduled to pitch one inning tonight for Class A Charlotte. CF Kevin Kiermaier (left hand fracture) will be examined today by Rays hand specialist Dr. Douglas Carlan. He will have an X-ray taken Friday. LHP Johnny Venters (Tommy John surgery) completed the second half of back-to-back appearances Tuesday for Charlotte.
LONG BALL: LF Corey Dickerson homered off the D-ring catwalk in rightfield during the second inning Tuesday. Dickerson is the first to reach the D-ring this season.