ST. PETERSBURG — Reigning Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell is a far better pitcher than impromptu home decorator, and his regrettable move to re-arrange furniture in his bathroom has landed him on the injured list.
In surely a strong early-season candidate for the strangest way to get injured, Snell injured his landing foot after the team returned from their road trip Sunday.
It seemed harmless enough. Snell, just returned from Toronto, said he had been staring down at a decorative stand near his shower for some time. And this time, he decided to move it, but not before the granite base fell on his right foot.
The brunt of the impact came down on Snell’s fourth toe, and he later found it was broken. On Tuesday, it stood out among his other toes with a bright red hue.
“Pretty dumb,” Snell said of the incident.
Not much has gone wrong for the Rays in the season’s first few weeks. With the exception of Matt Duffy’s nagging hamstring, they haven’t been beset by injuries in starting off the majors’ best record entering Tuesday’s series opener against Baltimore, the first game of nine straight at Tropicana Field.
“I think maybe (we were) lucky,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “You see so many injuries in this game now, so for it to be a fourth toe, we should feel okay.”
While losing your ace hurts, the Rays are optimistic Snell won’t miss much time. Cash said he’s optimistic Snell will miss no more than two starts. Snell said he hopes to return after one.
“I’m pushing to be back as soon as possible,” Snell said. “I’ve never broken a bone in my life, so this is a first. So we’ll see. I think it should be one start, that’s my goal at least. It feels way better today, so if it keeps moving at that pace I’ll play catch tomorrow.”
Said Cash: “He’ll stay off his feet, probably be able to keep his arm in shape enough, hopefully just miss a time or two through the rotation. With the way we’ve been going, with the way he’s been pitching, you want him out there every fifth day.”
Snell’s turn in the rotation is Friday, and the Rays could use an opener for a third straight game to fill that spot, Cash said the options will become cleared following Tuesday’s series opener against Baltimore.
How the Rays maneuver through losing one of their three starting pitchers — openers were already slated to be used Wednesday and Thursday against Baltimore — remains to be seen.
They could hold back right-hander Yonny Chirinos, who has received two spot starts and allowed just one run over 12 innings, for Friday, but he could be needed to provide bulk innings before then. Monday’s off day would allow right-hander Charlie Morton to pitch on regular rest, but they’d need to fill a spot for Saturday.
“We’ll see how we get there,” Cash said. “We’re going to see, we have a couple of thoughts and decisions that we’ve got to concern ourselves with. I think we’ll have a better idea after we get through tonight, see how the bullpen is used tonight. We’ll see if we have the potential to line some stuff up for the next two or three days.
After struggling in his opening day start, Snell has allowed just one run over his past three starts spanning 19 innings, posting a remarkable 33 strikeouts and just two walks while holding opponents to a .143 batting average over that stretch. He held
Toronto to one hit over six scoreless innings in his last start on Saturday, striking out nine and walking one.