Friday, June 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

New Rays catcher Wilson Ramos says he's ahead of schedule in rehab

ST. PETERSBURG — New catcher Wilson Ramos seems determined to make the Rays' $12.5 million gamble in signing him pay off sooner rather than later.

Ramos said Monday he is already a month ahead of schedule in his recovery from Oct. 14 right knee surgery to repair his ACL and meniscus tears and is planning to be in the Rays lineup, as least as a DH, by early May, then later going behind the plate.

"The pace of my rehab, at the very least, I expect to be available for the team, getting at-bats, DHing, really from the beginning of May," Ramos said Monday, with the deal — that includes another $5.75 million in incentives — official. "The people doing my therapy (in South Florida) have been really impressed."

Rays officials, who had been planning a June or July, post-All-Star-break, return, are excited by the 2016 All-Star's optimism, though it's not unusual for injured players to envision more aggressive schedules.

"We never want to limit a player," senior vice president Chaim Bloom said. "We're very hopeful his forecast is the way it turns out."

To make room for Ramos, the Rays designated for assignment longtime but oft-injured top catching prospect Justin O'Conner, who, they revealed, has had two back surgeries since the end of the season related to ongoing disc issues and may not be able to play in 2017.

"It's been a battle for him," Bloom said. "Obviously it's not out of the question certainly that he's going to be able to be active in 2017, but we're a ways away from that right now."

O'Conner, a 2010 first-round pick, was limited to 20 minor-league games in 2016 due to a back strain. If O'Conner clears waivers, the Rays would be open to signing him back on a minor-league deal.

The incentives in Ramos' deal include some protection for the Rays, with a $2 million increase in his 2018 base salary (from $8.5 million to $10.5 million) based on starting 55 games at catcher and not going back on the DL due to the knee. There are other incentives for games caught and plate appearances.

Also:

• Bloom said the Rays remain "very active" in trade discussions since the winter meetings, though with "no timetable" for any deals. In addition to their starters, the Rays may now get more interest in closer Alex Colome — who would come at a high price — with Kenley Jansen re-signing with the Dodgers.

• The Rays' spring trip to Havana is featured in the MLB Network documentary Cuba: Island of Baseball that premieres 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

Comments
Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

ST. PETERSBURG — Missing all of 2017 might have been the absolute worst thing for Matt Duffy.Frustratingly idled as he eventually recovered and rehabbed from ongoing left heel issues, he couldn't play the game he loved, couldn't show the Rays o...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Rays journal: Jake Bauers proves he’s up to speed on bases

Rays journal: Jake Bauers proves he’s up to speed on bases

ST. PETERSBURG – Rookie 1B Jake Bauers has impressed at the plate and in the field since his June 7 promotion.Also, with his hustling on the bases."I knew he played hard; everybody said that at every level,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "I di...
Published: 06/21/18
Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Published: 06/21/18
Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

HOUSTON — The Rays saw a lot on the weeklong trip that ended with Wednesday's game against that Astros, beyond the street hustlers prowling in Times Square and the urban cowboys and girls parading through H-town.There was an impressive debuting...
Published: 06/20/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

RHP Nathan Eovaldi said before his rough start Wednesday against the Astros that he was pitching better than his numbers showed. Well … In four starts since his six no-hit innings debut, he's 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing eight homers, four Wed...
Published: 06/20/18
For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

UPDATE, 6:43: Cash said the key to how the pieced the lineup together was the opportunity to give Cron (who is struggling) and Duffy (who is doing well) back to back days off. … Looking ahead to the weekend, the Rays will use RHP Ryne Stanek as...
Published: 06/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Times sports columnist Tom Jones joins Rick Stroud to discuss Kevin Kiermaier's return to the Rays, whether Victor Hedman should win the Norris Trophy for the NHL's best defenseman, Bucs expectations for this season and Barry Trotz's next c...
Published: 06/20/18
How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

There was some interesting inside baseball elements that factored into the late innings of Tuesday's 2-1 Rays win.* First, on Matt Duffy's double off reliever Hector Rondon to lead off the eighth.Duffy said he doesn't like "to guess" what a pitcher i...
Published: 06/20/18
Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

HOUSTON — Energy.That's what Kevin Kiermaier said he felt he'd provide most in rejoining the Rays Tuesday against the Astros after missing two-plus months recovering from thumb surgery."I like to think I bring energy on both sides of the ball, ...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

HOUSTON — The starting pitcher walked seven over seven otherwise solid innings Tuesday. That seemed weird enough for the Rays. Then the next pitcher they brought in was the one who started Monday's game. Even more bizarre.And then there was thi...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18