ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell was optioned to Triple-A Durham on Friday because the Rays needed a fresh arm for a heavily used bullpen and because, well, the left-hander earned it.
Snell, 0-6 with a 4.98 ERA in 14 starts during his sophomore season, pitched a combined 91/3 innings on the recent road trip, including only four during his Thursday night start in Houston.
The Rays recalled LHP Jose Alvarado to give the bullpen another arm.
"We've used our bullpen quite heavily here to win these last couple ball games, and we needed to clean it up. We need innings," manager Kevin Cash said. "We don't want to overexpose anybody and risk any injury to our bullpen. They're gonna be pretty valuable to us going forward. Had to make a decision, and he was the guy."
The move could mean RHP Austin Pruitt will remain in the rotation. Cash said he did not know what the demotion means for Snell — if he will return at some point later in the year, or if he will remain with the Bulls for the remainder of their season and call it a year.
Cash did say Snell's second demotion this season had as much to do with the team wanting to help the bullpen as it did with wanting Snell to get more work in an environment where he won't hurt the big-league club's chances of reaching the postseason.
"It's a combination," Cash said. "I think it's fair to say it's both. The bullpen's a priority, there's no doubt. We can't use some of these guys that we've been using so much, that's why we have (RHP Ryne) Stanek, that's why we have Alvarado, but Blake could definitely benefit from going down there and continuing to work on things."
INF Daniel Robertson (neck spasms) returned from the disabled list and found himself starting at shortstop and batting ninth against the Brewers.
"Same mind-set that I had earlier in the year, to go out and do what I can to help the team win," Robertson said. "Play good defense and contribute at the plate."
Robertson hit .538 over five rehab games split between Class A Charlotte and Triple-A Durham.
"We need to be able to have a guy in there that can give (SS Adeiny Hechavarria) a day off," Cash said. "Hech is about as athletic as any shortstop as you'll see, he covers a lot of ground. Saying that, he needs some days off."
To make room for Robertson, the team optioned INF Taylor Featherston to Durham.
RHP Jake Odorizzi (lower back strain) allowed two runs on three hits and struck out six in three innings Friday at Dunedin while making a rehab start for Charlotte. Provided Odorizzi has no issues with his back, he is expected to join the Rays rotation for their series next week against Boston. … CF Kevin Kiermaier (right hip fracture) said his lower back feels better, but he cannot resume baseball activities until he's totally pain-free. He said he is not concerned about the setback but is upset that it stopped his minor-league rehab and will prevent him from returning next week. … RHP Jose De Leon (lat strain) allowed a run on five hits with four walks and four strikeouts in four innings for Charlotte.
Number of the day
8 Consecutive games 1B Lucas Duda has reached base since joining the Rays in a trade with the Mets. The last player to do that was INF Willy Aybar in 2008.
Rays on the Runway
The 11th annual Rays on the Runway fashion show to benefit the Children's Dream Fund is scheduled for Sunday at the Vinoy Renaissance in St. Petersburg. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information, log onto childrensdreamfund.org or call 727-896-6390.