ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays were already planning to go to a four-man rotation due to a spectacular run by their starters and five off-days in August.
So with All-Star LHP Matt Moore feeling left elbow soreness during Sunday's start in New York and again while playing catch Wednesday, they decided to be "overly cautious" and put him on the 15-day disabled list for the first time.
Moore was encouraged that an MRI exam revealed no structural damage. Neither he nor the Rays are concerned, with executive VP Andrew Friedman saying they believe Moore and RHP Alex Cobb (concussion) will return in mid August. INF Ryan Roberts was called up to take Moore's roster spot and provide infield depth.
"This is definitely the best decision for us going forward," Moore said. "I think that if this was the playoffs and the situation called for me to be out there, I think without a doubt I could do it. I think just with the situation we're in with the scheduling and how well everyone is throwing the ball, there's no reason for us to push things right now."
Moore (14-3) said he first felt muscle soreness in the elbow in the second inning Sunday but only while throwing changeups. He didn't tell anyone and stayed in the game until getting pulled after five innings and five runs in a 6-5 loss.
An MRI exam Monday was clear, and Moore rested for a few days before testing the elbow Wednesday, playing catch from 70 feet with head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield. When he felt discomfort, he decided it was smart to go on the DL.
Manager Joe Maddon said they would have liked to have known sooner that Moore felt sore but understood because he was in unfamiliar territory.
"Next time something comes around, I'm sure he's going to be a little more telling in regard to what's going on, but I know everything is fine," Maddon said. "We backed off in time."
Maddon said having four off-days in the next 12 made it easier for them to go to a four-man rotation, with RHP Chris Archer starting Friday, LHP David Price on Saturday in place of Moore and RHP Roberto Hernandez, who threw a complete game Tuesday, on Sunday. RHP Jeremy Hellickson will likely follow. Said Moore: "I don't think we should skip a beat at all."
TRADE WINDS: Executive VP Andrew Friedman said the Rays had numerous discussions aimed at improving depth leading up to Wednesday's 4 p.m. nonwaiver trade deadline but they had no obvious needs and "nothing lined up."
"We're happy with the guys we have," he said.
The Rays acquired All-Star RHP Jesse Crain from the White Sox on Monday, but Friedman said they had no glaring issues to address and liked their depth at Triple A, so they were able to be selective. Friedman said a lot of their big offseason deals have been started around this deadline, so it could "lead to things down the road."
NEW FACE: Crain arrived at the Trop and met his new teammates, excited to join a playoff race after spending the season with the last-place White Sox. "Couldn't ask for anything more," Crain. "It's an awesome opportunity."
Crain, on the DL with a right shoulder strain since June 30, said his goal is to be ready to join the Rays sometime in August. He hasn't resumed throwing since having discomfort during a bullpen session a week ago, but he met with the Rays training staff to go over a plan. "Obviously, sooner than later, I hope," he said.
MISCELLANY: Evan Longoria served as DH, with Roberts starting at third. … RHP Brandon Gomes, out since mid May with a lat strain, had his rehab assignment transferred to Triple-A Durham, where he'll make an appearance tonight for the Bulls. … Friedman said Durham OF Brandon Guyer (broken finger) may be back by the end of the season.