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Rays journal: Brad Miller heads to DL; St. Pete’s Ryan Weber joins bullpen

 
A struggling Rays offense is now without Brad Miller for at least 10 days because of a left groin strain. [Associated Press]
A struggling Rays offense is now without Brad Miller for at least 10 days because of a left groin strain. [Associated Press]
Published April 9, 2018|Updated April 9, 2018

BOSTON — An offense already struggling is now going to be shorthanded as the Rays put INF Brad Miller on the 10-day DL following Sunday's game with a left groin strain and replaced him by adding a 10th pitcher to their bullpen.

RHP Ryan Weber, a St. Petersburg native signed as a minor-league free agent last winter, will join the crew of multi-inning relievers working in support of what is still a three-man rotation.

The Rays have RHP Chris Archer set to start Monday in Chicago and LHP Blake Snell on Tuesday, with another bullpen day planned for Wednesday as innings are quickly piling up on the relievers.

Weber, 27, has big-league time with the Braves and Mariners. He was assigned to Triple-A Durham and was scheduled to start Monday.

Miller said he felt something after running the bases on a fifth-inning single. "I tried for a couple inning to shake it off or whatever, but I knew it wasn't going to be smart to stay in there," he said.

Joey Wendle pinch-hit in the seventh, and Daniel Robertson — a day after making his pro pitching debut — slid over from second base for his first appearance at first base since a high school showcase game.

With Miller out, C.J. Cron will play more first base, and lefty OF/DH Denard Span is likely to be in the lineup more against lefty starters.

The injury to Miller is more concerning since he had surgery in October after dealing with similar issues last season. He missed time during spring training for what he said were "lower body" issues related to his gait after first breaking a toe.

Special K

CF Kevin Kiermaier has had a tough weekend. The happiness he felt in getting out of bed after being too sick to play Saturday and rejoining the lineup Sunday was abated by the serious pain he felt after fouling a ball off his right foot in his eighth-inning at-bat. Though Kiermaier stayed in and expects to play Monday, he knows he will be quite sore for several days. As for what kept him in bed all day Saturday, it was an apparently hard-to-describe illness he's not totally over: "I don't know what you want to diagnose it as — I'm not coughing, I'm not sneezing, I'm not super germy spreading. Whatever, it's weird to explain. I was just freezing the past few days and just didn't have a whole lot of energy." Never one to sit still, Kiermaier spent his unwanted down time watching "random YouTube bow-fishing videos" and FaceTiming with family. Noting he'd had the chills going back to the tail end of spring training, Kiermaier said he is hoping getting out of the freezing weather and back home to the sunshine will get him totally over it. For now, he's taking some medicine to help: "I can't tell you what it's called or anything, you know, one of those super long names."

The Mallex effect

For the second time in the three games in Boston, LF Mallex Smith failed to make a play at a critical time in Rays losses. While there was some debate Thursday, Smith flat out admitted Sunday he definitely had a chance to catch the Andrew Benintendi drive that scored Boston's winning run. "I thought I did, should have caught it, didn't," Smith said. "Just poor performance. If I'm going to stay up here, I've got to do better." Earlier in the inning Rafael Devers' ball into the corner kicked off the odd-shaped wall and away from Smith, allowing an extra base. Also, he is hitting .188 with a .278 on-base percentage.

For starters, a mess

The Rays are now just the sixth team since 1908 to lose eight straight games after winning their opener. The others: 2005 Rockies (eight), 1998 Marlins (11), 1961 Angels (8), 1944 Cubs (13), 1939 Pirates (8).

Miscellany

• RHP Andrew Kittredge started Sunday's third "bullpen day" but was on a tight pitch count due to previous workload and was pulled after throwing 33 in two innings. Rookie LHP Ryan Yarbrough had three walks but otherwise a solid four-inning outing.

* Manager Kevin Cash noted the Red Sox hitters' familiarity with RHP Alex Colome, but the Rays closer said neither that nor the weather was an excuse for his performance.

• The 38-degree first pitch tied for the second coldest in franchise history, also April 5, 2007, at New York. Coldest was 34 on April 17, 2003, in Boston.

• It is forecast to be even colder Monday in Chicago, though Archer said he plans to pitch in short sleeves "unless it's snowing, then I don't know what I'll do."

• Two-way 1B/LHP prospect Brendan McKay, off to a 5-for-9, six-walk (thus .733 on-base percentage) start for Class A Bowling Green, makes his first start Monday at South Bend (Cubs).