Thursday, February 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays to activate Steve Pearce from DL, send down Nick Franklin

DENVER — The Rays are welcoming another key player back to active duty tonight, activating INF/DH Steve Pearce from the disabled list.

To make room, the Rays after Monday's game optioned INF Nick Franklin to Triple-A.

Pearce has been out since June 20 when he strained his right hamstring in Cleveland, and the Rays have missed him, as he was hitting .322 at the time with a .933 OPS.

Pearce played in two rehab games for the advanced Class A Stone Crabs, going 3-for-7, and joined the team in Denver on Monday. He provides a right-handed-hitting option to Logan Morrison at first base, can play second and third and can DH when the Rays get back to AL rules.

In addition to providing an immediate boost to the lineup, Pearce also might spark trade talks, as he is expected to be a popular subject of discussion among contenders leading to the Aug. 1 deadline for nonwaiver deals. Pearce is appealing since he is on a one-year, $4.75 million contract.

SNELL'S PACE: Rookie LHP Blake Snell is ready for two new experiences in tonight's start at Coors Field.

One is pitching without his typically key curveball, a nod to the impact of the altitude significantly reducing the break on the ball.

The other is batting in a game for the first time since 2011 when he was a high school senior.

Snell said he could tell after playing catch for a few minutes Monday afternoon that the curve wouldn't work as well, and he plans to make more use of his slider and changeup.

"My game plan definitely has changed from what it was," he said. "It had the same spin, but it's not dropping as I feel it should at all."

On the positive side, Snell said he is eager to make more use of the other off-speed pitches.

"I've definitely been working on the slider a lot," he said. "I'm happy with that and excited to throw it in a game and see what it does. The same with the changeup."

As for hitting, Snell isn't really sure what to expect — except for not having much expectation for success.

"I'm pretty excited for it but I'm kind of nervous at the same time," he said. "I haven't swung a bat in six years, so it's probably going to go right by me."

Snell has his own bat, but the Rays got it and he doesn't even know the specs. "I didn't order it, they just said, 'Here's a bat that says Blake Snell,' " he said. "I might sleep with it tonight."

REHAB REPORT: Manager Kevin Cash said before Monday's game that the Rays hadn't decided — "not quite yet" — if RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) would return to his rehab start program or throw another bullpen session, as he did Sunday. Cobb left a July 11 rehab start, his second, after one inning due to what he and the team said was fatigue. … RHP Brad Boxberger (oblique) made the first of several scheduled rehab appearances, allowing a two-out home run in a 13-pitch inning for the Stone Crabs. … RHP Chase Whitley (Tommy John surgery) made a solid first rehab start for Charlotte, allowing one hit while striking out three in a 20-pitch inning.

GOING LONGO: 3B Evan Longoria became just the second American League third baseman to have at least eight 20-homer seasons, joining Graig Nettles, who had 10 with the Yankees and Indians. Longoria also joined Eddie Mathews and Scott Rolen as the only third basemen to hit 20 in at least eight of his first nine seasons.

MISCELLANY: First pitch was delayed 32 minutes following rain. … CF Kevin Kiermaier hit second, but Cash said that because SS Brad Miller was off and not a permanent change. … Triple-A Durham LHP Justin Marks, who threw a no-hitter Saturday, and C J.P. Arencibia, who hit .471, were named International League pitcher and player of the week. … Team president Brian Auld and senior VP Melanie Lenz, who handles stadium issues, are on the trip. … After playing 26 of 30 games against teams above .500, the Rays are playing seven vs. teams below.

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