ST. PETERSBURG — Watching RHP Jeremy Hellickson struggle the past month and assured that injury was not an issue, the Rays still felt they had to do something. So Tuesday, the day after Hellickson's latest debacle, they optioned the 2011 rookie of the year to Class A Charlotte.
The move — which also led to RHP Jake Odorizzi being called up to start Thursday and LHP David Price moving back to Friday — was essentially procedural, and not at all punitive. What the Rays really want is for Hellickson, who is 0-5, 9.00 over his past six starts, to take a week or so off to see if he regains the zip on his pitches. He is not likely to appear in a game for the Stone Crabs.
"Just primarily to give him a little bit of a rest," manager Joe Maddon explained. "He's well physically; we just thought giving him a little bit of a break would be very important right now. Obviously the more recent performances have not been great."
Hellickson was obviously not happy as he changed into street clothes and left the clubhouse around 5:30, but he declined to comment.
Jeff Beliveau was called up from Triple-A Durham to add a fresh lefty arm to the bullpen. Beliveau — 2-3, 2.62 with a dazzling 76 strikeouts in 442/3 innings for the Bulls — had been up twice before without getting into a game. His stay may be short again.
With an open spot in their rotation Saturday, when Hellickson was slated to pitch in Oakland, the Rays decided to call up Odorizzi, who is 9-6, 3.33 at Triple-A Durham and has had two previous stints, and have him face the Angels on Thursday.
That provides an extra day's rest for Price and RHP Alex Cobb, and also lines them up to both pitch in the Sept. 10-12 series against Boston.
Hellickson could return to the Rays as soon as Sept. 2; the usual 10-day minimum stay is waived when the minor-league team's season ends. However, if the Stone Crabs make the playoffs he technically would have to be re-assigned again. He still could be added to the Rays postseason roster.
"We think or feel as though he's going to be very important to us in September — and October, hopefully — so that we want to get him back where he had been," Maddon said.
Hellickson was rested during his first two seasons, extra days between starts in 2011, a DL stint in 2012.
WIL THE CHILL: Rookie OF/DH Wil Myers has been struggling, hitting .158 (9-for-57) over his past 15 games with 21 strikeouts. Maddon said a few small adjustments are needed, but primarily Myers is just missing or fouling off his pitch and expanding his strike zone.
REHAB REPORT: LHP Matt Moore (elbow) will make his Thursday rehab start for Durham at Gwinnett as the Rays were concerned about rain in Port Charlotte. … DH Luke Scott (back) joins Durham today for a rehab assignment. Scott, out since Aug. 14, is eligible to return Friday, but the Rays will wait until rosters expand Sunday.
NOT-SO-MINOR MATTERS: Durham's Charlie Montoyo was named International League manager of the year, RHP J.D. Martin (15-4, 2.84) most valuable pitcher and INF Vince Belnome a postseason All-Star. … DH Delmon Young went 2-for-5 for Double-A Montgomery and is 4-for-20 (.200) with five strikeouts in five games.
FALL GUYS: Eight Rays will head to the Arizona Fall League's Salt River Rafters: Ps Grayson Garvin, Merrill Kelly, Mike Montgomery, Matt Ramsey; INFs Ryan Brett, Richie Shaffer; C Curt Casali; OF Todd Glaesmann.
MISCELLANY: C Jose Molina had three hits and a season-high three RBIs, his first since July 24. … Maddon said it's "really not right" to see the Angels for the first time in late August. … Principal owner Stuart Sternberg was on hand.