ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays made the first of several interesting roster decisions Monday night, sending struggling RHP Brandon Gomes to Triple-A Durham.
RHP Alex Cobb is set to come off the disabled list and rejoin the rotation Thursday, and with LHP Cesar Ramos expected to be moved back to the bullpen to make room, a reliever was likely to be dropped.
By doing it this way, the Rays are likely to keep impressive rookie OF Kevin Kiermaier around at least for a few more days, although they also have additional flexibility to address their catching situation. Another move will be required Thursday to add Cobb.
Gomes made the opening day roster after an impressive spring and started well, with 12 of his first 15 appearances scoreless and a 2.57 ERA. But his past five outings haven't been good, with seven runs and 10 hits — including four home runs — for a 9.95 ERA.
After giving up a two-run homer Saturday, Gomes said, "I've got to make better pitches. I'm throwing the ball right down the middle right now and I'm getting punished for it."
Ramos threw only 35 pitches before being pulled in the second inning Saturday, so he could be available if needed in relief tonight. Plus, the bullpen overall is rested with Monday off.
Kiermaier was initially called because CF Desmond Jennings was going to miss the Saturday and Sunday games due to a death in his family and was placed on the bereavement list. Jennings is expected back today.
But Kiermaier was impressive offensively and defensively, and keeping him around provides an extra left-handed bat, at least for two more games. Keeping him after Wednesday would likely mean instead dropping OF Brandon Guyer or INF Logan Forsythe.
PITCHING IN: Cobb was said to do "very well" in a Monday bullpen session, the last test in his return from an oblique strain.
The Rays were 7-5 when Cobb beat the Reds on April 12 before leaving with his injury, and they are 12-21 since. Though the rotation has stabilized with the improvements by LHP Erik Bedard and RHP Jake Odorizzi, who starts tonight, having Cobb back benefits the entire pitching staff.
CATCHING ON: A decision is expected before tonight's game on the status of C Ryan Hanigan, who has been sidelined with right hamstring soreness since leaving Friday's game with either cramping or a mild strain.
Hanigan has been adamant that he would be fine with rest and not need to go on the disabled list, the Rays not as sure so they want to see how he looks and feels in an afternoon workout. If Hanigan isn't ready, the Rays could put him on the DL, or opt to give him a few extra days and call up a third catcher (in place of Kiermaier). They don't, however, have any experienced options at Triple-A Durham as Ali Solis has caught four innings in the majors and Curt Casali was recently promoted from Double A.
MINOR MATTERS: LHP C.J. Riefenhauser, who debuted with the Rays in April, was reinstated from the DL at Triple-A Durham after being out three weeks with an oblique strain. … Durham LHP Mike Montgomery, 5-1, 3.96 overall, was named International League pitcher of the week for the second time in a month. … Stone Crabs 1B Patrick Leonard, like Montgomery part of the Wil Myers-James Shields trade, was named Class A Florida State League player of the week.
MISCELLANY: OF Matt Joyce takes over the @raysbaseball Twitter account at 2:15 today. … RHP Grant Balfour, OF David DeJesus, Forsythe, LHP Matt Moore and team president Matt Silverman will attend the St. Petersburg Chamber luncheon Wednesday at the Carillon Hilton; tickets are $45 via stpete.com.