Monday, April 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays closer Boxberger ready to return from disabled list

ST. PETERSBURG — The back of the Rays bullpen receives a boost tonight when RHP Brad Boxberger returns after missing the first 48 games of the season because of adductor surgery in spring training.

"I'm ready to come back," Boxberger said. "Everything feels 100 percent. I feel like I'm where I need to be to get major-league hitters out."

To make room on the roster, RHP Ryan Webb was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a right pectoral strain.

Boxberger, who led the American League last season with 41 saves, will ease his way into his old role.

"I'm okay with whatever they need me to do," he said. "So if it's throwing earlier than the ninth, it's fine with me. If it's throwing in the ninth and beyond, that's fine, also."

The success of RHP Alex Colome as Boxberger's replacement — 12-for-12 in save opportunities — will make the transition a little easier. At the time of his surgery, Boxberger said Colome would be able to handle the ninth inning despite the fact that Colome had never pitched in that role during his career.

"He's done nothing to disprove anything I or anyone else had said about what he's capable of," Boxberger said. "It's definitely a good feeling for anyone to be able to hand him or anyone else in the back of the pen the ball with the lead and be able to take it from there."

Boxberger's biggest impact should be in reducing the workload on RHP Erasmo Ramirez, who has pitched 321/3 innings in 19 relief appearances during the first 48 games. Ramirez also pitched 52/3 innings while making a spot start in April.

"I want the most appearances I can get," Ramirez said. "Less innings means less pitches, less pitches means I can be fresh and even go three days, back-to-back-to-back."

WHERE'S THE 'O'? The offense, which averaged seven runs during the last road trip, was flat while losing four of five games on the homestand outside of Saturday's nine-run outburst.

The Rays were held to one run during three of the losses, including Sunday's 2-1 setback to the Yankees.

They were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position Sunday and left eight runners on base, including five between the fifth and sixth innings.

Yankees RHP Nathan Eovaldi allowed six hits. The trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman got the final nine outs, including seven by strikeout, as the Rays wasted RHP Jake Odorizzi's strong start.

"I don't think we saw a fastball under 96 miles an hour. We had a tough time with their guys, too," C Curt Casali said. "Punch for punch, Eovaldi was great, and that three-headed monster they have at the end of their bullpen is pretty hard to beat. So we needed to string a couple more off them and put Jake in position to win, but it (stinks)."

WEBB'S INJURY: Manager Kevin Cash said Webb developed soreness in his right pectoral May 26 while facing the Marlins. "He just hasn't quite kicked it," Cash said. "We don't think it's … too big of a deal. We just want to be cautious."

NOTEWORTHY: 3B Evan Longoria drove in the team's lone run. He had five RBIs in the final two games against the Yankees. … The Rays have lost nine of their past 13 home games.

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