CLEVELAND — The Rays filled a need Sunday for another arm in their bullpen by calling up well-traveled Oliver Drake from Triple A.
But in creating space for Drake on the 40-man roster, they raised a question about the status of starter Tyler Glasnow, who was shifted from the 10- to the 60-day injured list to make room.
Glasnow now can’t return until after the July 8-11 All-Star break, an obviously longer absence than the 4-6 weeks announced when he was diagnosed with a strained flexor muscle in his forearm after leaving his May 10 start.
Manager Kevin Cash said this was “not at all” a sign that Glasnow had a more severe injury or that something else was wrong.
“Tyler is doing great, and there has been no setback,’’ Cash said.
It sounds like the typically conservative Rays were aggressive in putting out that timetable given that, even with no issues, Glasnow would need time after recovering to be built back up in rehab games to handle the starter’s workload of six or so innings and 100 pitches. Internally, they were not planning on him being in the rotation before the break.
“We have to be very responsible here with him, and this gives him the time needed to get built back up to where we can insert him back into the rotation,’’ Cash said.
Drake, 32, made history last season when he pitched for five teams — the Brewers, Indians, Angels, Blue Jays and Twins. The Rays during the offseason got him, lost him on waivers after designation for assignment, then traded to get him back.
He was doing good work at Durham, including an impressive 40 strikeouts to seven walks, and outside of two opener assignments was 1-1, 3.54.
The Rays probably won’t use him for more than two innings, as in the 1⅔ he worked Sunday in his debut. One issue is that he is out of options, which limits the team’s flexibility, though Hunter Wood, Emilio Pagan and Ryne Stanek can be shuttled out when needed. Casey Sadler was sent down Sunday to make room.
Memorial Day checkpoint
Memorial Day is a traditional, albeit unofficial, checkpoint that it’s no longer early in the MLB season and what you see is often what you get. At 31-19 and two games behind the Yankees in the AL East, especially with so many key guys hurt, the Rays are pretty pleased. “If you would have told us this coming out of spring training, I think we would all have signed up for it,’’ Cash said. “We’ve got a lot of, a lot of work to do. And a lot more that we’d like to accomplish. But we’ve got to be pretty happy with how we’ve positioned ourselves to this point. Every team has injuries. Ours, we have to find a way to overcome some of those, and I think the guys have done a really good job to this point of doing that.’’
The Rays are curious for their first look this week at Blue Jays 20-year-old phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr., which will be something of a time warp for the coaches who played against his dad, the Hall of Fame outfielder by the same name.
“I’m sure the hype is real, the bloodlines sure are,’’ said pitching coach Kyle Snyder. “He’s obviously a special talent, no different than his father. I’m looking forward to the challenge.’’
Third-base coach Rodney Linares saw Junior during offseasons in the Dominican Republic: “I’ve seen him hit home runs as a 13-year-old taking BP at the biggest stadiums. He’s a beast.’’
Current Rays players didn’t see the younger Guerrero too much in the minors, though Brandon Lowe remembered a July 2017 series when both were in the Florida State League.
“You’ve just heard a lot of talk about how talented Guerrero Jr. is,’’ Cash said. “Looking forward to seeing him hit batting practice but other than that, I hope we don’t see it all.’’
The Jays have another pedigreed player on the roster in second baseman Cavan Biggio, son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio.
Quote of the day
“I feel old already; I don’t need to see him to feel old.’’
Rays’ 47-year-old hitting coach Chad Mottola, on Vlad Guerrero Jr.; Mottola coached Vlad Sr. in his final season of pro ball in 2012 at Triple-A Las Vegas
Number of the day
Record for Cash in four-plus seasons managing the Rays, the first time back to .500 since he was 66-66 on Sept. 1, 2015, his first season.
• Tommy Pham extended his hitting streak to 12 games, but for the first time in seven games he didn’t have an extra-base hit.
• Cash claimed he had no surprises nor pranks planned for this week’s first visit back to the Trop for former Rays coaches turned opposing managers Charlie Montoyo (Blue Jays) and Rocco Baldelli (Twins). “Looking forward to seeing both of them,’’ he said.
• Gaither High product Oscar Mercado, who debuted two weeks ago, hit his first career homer, off Oliver Drake in the eighth.
• The U.S. Special Operations Command rappel team will descend from the A-ring catwalk to deliver Monday’s game ball as part of Memorial Day activities.
Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.