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Niemann "most likely" headed to DL, Rays say

UPDATE, 4:37: The Rays are now saying Niemann is "most likely" headed to the DL, and it could be official as soon as tonight. Still unclear on who will be called up, but RHP Rob Delaney is among the possibilities. Niemann said he officially has a lower back strain, and there is no timetable for his return, that it's just based on when he feels better. "It's very frustrating,'' he said.

DEVELOPING: RHP Jeff Niemann was "still pretty sore" this morning and moving gingerly, and manager Joe Maddon said the Rays are leaning toward putting him on the DL, though nothing was official prior to Thursday's game.

Niemann went to see Rays back specialist Dr. Tom Tolli and had an MRI Thursday morning.

"He's hurting a little bit,'' Maddon said. "It's be hard to imagine that he's going to come back and be well all of a sudden. I'd have to almost believe and anticipate that it's going to be more on the DL side.''

The Rays would have several options if that's the case, but seem to be leaning toward putting RHP Andy Sonnanstine in the rotation. Maddon noted that Sonnanstine looked good in relief on Wednesday.

They also could recall RHP Alex Cobb, who made a spot start on Sunday, or try LHP Alex Torres, another prospect at Triple-A. If Sonnanstine goes into the rotation, they could instead call up a reliever. RHPs Rob Delaney and Dane De La Rosa are among the possibilities on the 40-man roster; Cory Wade and Mike Ekstrom among the non-roster options.

Maddon said the obvious concern was that Niemann's velocity had dropped to the 86-87 range.

Posted by Marc Topkin at 12:10:03 pm on May 05, 2011