The issue in RHP Jeremy Hellickson's shoulder is said to be fatigue, nothing more. But to make sure it doesn't become anything worse, the Rays decided to force rest on their prized pitcher by putting him on the 15-day disabled list, and they called up RHP Chris Archer to make his major-league debut tonight.
The Rays' plan is for Hellickson to miss just two starts (tonight and Monday) and rejoin the rotation June 30. Hellickson went along somewhat grudgingly, insisting he "felt fine" during his past two rough outings (nine runs on 14 hits and eight walks over eight innings) and didn't notice anything was amiss until his Sunday bullpen session.
"It's definitely frustrating," Hellickson said. "I felt good enough to throw my bullpen and I'd really like to start. Missing a start is not something I want to do. They're looking out for the rest of the year. Taking two starts off now helps. ... It's just a precautionary thing."
Manager Joe Maddon said that was exactly it. "We just like the idea of backing off right now, and that's it," he said. "We don't consider it critical. We just want to make sure he's able to pitch in the World Series this year."
ARCHER SET: Archer, 23, was already in bed in his Rochester, N.Y., hotel room around 11 p.m. Monday when he got a text to meet Triple-A Durham manager Charlie Montoyo in the lobby.
Archer figured he was either being traded or called up, and he was obviously thrilled - "ecstatic," was his word - it was the latter.
"I don't think words can really describe your major-league debut, especially being a starter," he said. "I got drafted in 2006 and it's been a dream of mine since I was real small to do this. I know only a small percentage of people get to do it, and I'm going to make the most of it."
Archer got off to a bit of a slow start with Durham but said work with pitching coach Neil Allen helped him, mentally as much as anything, and he felt he was throwing well overall, with a 4-8, 4.81 record.
The Rays will keep it simple, Maddon said, asking Archer to "just be himself, don't worry about scouting reports, go out there and throw his fastball and see what happens."
Archer not only will get to pitch, but also to hit (and against Washington's Stephen Strasburg), for the first time since 2010 when he was 2-for-12 in abbreviated action for the Cubs' Double-A team. Plus, he hasn't been taking batting practice, and the Rays didn't want him to start on Tuesday.
MISCELLANY: OF Rich Thompson also rejoined the team and will primarily be used in pinch-running situations. ... OF Kyeong Kang, INF Omar Luna and LHP Frank De Los Santos represented Montgomery Tuesday in the Double-A Southern League All-Star Game. ... The Rays signed three more draft picks, pushing their total to 30 (of 40 overall): No. 6 RHP Damion Carroll, No. 27 RHP Alexander Keudell and No. 38 C Chad Nacapoy.