Saturday, May 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jeff Niemann completes simulated game outing with no trouble

Times Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jeff Niemann felt great throwing a three-inning simulated game Friday and could start a rehab assignment the middle of next week.

Niemann, out since mid May with a broken fibula in his right leg, likely would need about four minor-league starts before rejoining the rotation.

He threw 45 pitches as OF Sam Fuld and INFs Will Rhymes and Sean Rodriguez stepped in as hitters. Manager Joe Maddon said pitching coach Jim Hickey reported that Niemann was "fantastic."

"It felt good," Niemann said. "(The injury) is really less and less in my mind each day, and I'm getting to think more about what we're doing on the mound and pitching and stuff like that. It's a great transition to not worry about how you feel instead of what you're doing."

Niemann did a full warmup, and he simulated sitting between innings to replicate a real game. As well as Niemann felt during bullpen sessions, he said seeing the reactions of hitters, and how they handled his pitches, gave him a "true knowledge of where you are and what you're doing."

And, of course, some ribbing.

"A few guys hit some balls kind of hard, so they let me know," Niemann said, smiling. "But, to my credit, that was when they knew what was coming."

Niemann said he still has to build strength and stamina, but he likely would do that in a rehab assignment, working his way up to 100 pitches.

"Everything is coming along like it should," he said.

LONGOria UPDATE: 3B Evan Longoria (partially torn left hamstring) went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a walk Friday as the DH for Triple-A Durham, the sixth game in his rehab stint.

Maddon said Longoria had felt good after Thursday's game, and it's possible he could rejoin the Rays for the Jays series next week. "It sounds encouraging," Maddon said.

WILL THE WAY: INF Will Rhymes was recalled from Durham and likely will have a bench role. Maddon said he likes Rhymes' versatility, his ability to pinch-run and pinch-hit, pointing out he could get a spot start at second base. Rhymes, in his second stint with the Rays, took the roster spot of RHP Josh Lueke, who was called up as insurance for the bullpen Wednesday but sent back down.

JOHNNY BE GOOD: Though the Indians designated Johnny Damon, 38, for assignment, it would appear unlikely Tampa Bay would re-sign the former Ray, especially considering it could have two DHs by next week (Longoria and Luke Scott, who is still on the DL). But Maddon doesn't believe Damon is done. "I would bet somebody is going to pick him up," he said.

ON THE RISE: Hard-throwing prospect RHP Alex Colome allowed two hits and four walks over six shutout innings in his first start for Durham. He struck out four. It's possible Colome, promoted after going 8-3 with a 3.48 ERA at Double-A Montgomery, could be looked at as a potential bullpen option during September callups. Maddon said Colome has "heavy velocity with good other stuff."

"This guy could be very, very special; I love his arm," Maddon said. "He's different."

MINOR MATTERS: Rookie-level Princeton finally ended its marathon, 23-inning game with Pulaski with a four-run rally to win 12-9. The teams played 18 innings Thursday, then finished Friday.

MISCELLANY: Maddon said DH Jeff Keppinger rolled his right ankle during a second-inning slide but is fine. … The Rays say the "Bark in the Park" section for Sunday's game is sold out. … INF/OF Ben Zobrist and his wife, Julianna, will be at the Trop team store from noon to 2 today ($5 includes one autograph each and a copy of Julianna's new CD, Say It Now).

Comments

For starters: Rays vs. Orioles; Ryne Stanek makes first start, Carlos Gomez returns

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' bullpenning experiment continues, with right-hander Ryne Stanek to open this afternoon's game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10.It is the first career start for Stanek, who has ...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps in the future.The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and Tampa...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field."It ...
Published: 05/25/18
Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

The Rays made a major trade Friday afternoon, sending All-Star closer Alex Colome and OF Denard Span to the Mariners.The return is two minor-leaguers, RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero. The Rays also sent cash to the Mariners.Span, a Tampa produc...
Published: 05/25/18
For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

By JOEY JOHNSTONTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For openers, the Rays will use RHP Sergio Romo, the 35-year-old career reliever, as tonight's starter against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.Romo is making his third career "sta...
Published: 05/25/18
Alex Cobb excited about return “home” to Trop even in Orioles orange

Alex Cobb excited about return “home” to Trop even in Orioles orange

RHP Alex Cobb has already pitched twice against his former Rays mates in Baltimore and said it didn't feel that weird, especially since there were so many new faces in the lineup.But coming back to the Trop, where he made his big-league debut and spe...
Published: 05/25/18
Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with “a lot to be excited about’

Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with “a lot to be excited about’

Willy Adames' first stint in the major leagues ended as planned Thursday night when he was optioned back to Triple-A Durham at the end of his planned three-game cameo filling in for new father Joey Wendle.Adames said going back down was "tough" even ...
Published: 05/25/18
Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Having lost two straight and nine of 12 times overall to the Red Sox, the Rays needed two things to go right Thursday:First, a strong start from Blake Snell.Second, some early runs against Rick Porcello from an offense that had...
Published: 05/24/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Home cooking clearly agrees with OF Denard Span. The 34-year-old Tampa product continues to deliver, producing at the plate, running the bases, making diving catches in the outfield, and Thursday, even going over the short sidewall twice in hot pursu...
Published: 05/24/18
Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays weren't kidding about being serious that starting relievers gives them the best chance to win.So much so, they plan to do so again this weekend against the Orioles — in all three games. The plan is for Sergio Rom...
Published: 05/24/18