Rays journal: Blake Snell takes a good step toward return

His bullpen session with a broken toe goes well; Wednesday start vs. Royals is among the options.
Rays ace Blake Snell throws a bullpen session Saturday, April 20, 2019, at Tropicana Field prior to the game against the Red Sox. [CHRIS O'MEARA   |   Associated Press]
Rays ace Blake Snell throws a bullpen session Saturday, April 20, 2019, at Tropicana Field prior to the game against the Red Sox. [CHRIS O'MEARA | Associated Press]
Published April 20
Updated April 20

ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell’s first step toward rejoining the Rays rotation this week was a solid one.

Snell said he felt good Saturday after throwing an 18-20 pitch bullpen with a broken toe on his right foot, and manager Kevin Cash said Saturday that the team medical staff was thus encouraged he could return soon, possibly Wednesday against the Royals.

“Everybody was very encouraged, so that’s a great sign that he’s feeling good and continues to make progress,’’ Cash said. “I was curious to see how it would feel getting off a slope, and it seemed like it didn’t bother him at all.’’

The concern isn’t just the discomfort caused by the fractured fourth toe, but even more so that in compensating for it, Snell could throw off his delivery and hurt something else.

Cash said that if Snell feels okay beyond the expected soreness, he might throw another more extended bullpen session Monday with a decision made then on when to slot him in.

He is eligible to come off the injured list Wednesday, but the team could opt to give him at least two more days and start him in the series in Boston that starts Friday.

“We’ll just have to kind of balance whether to pitch him Wednesday, first day available, or pitch him … in Boston,’’ Cash said. “Find out what the workload is. I imagine a lot of the decision and thoughts are going to come into the shape of our bullpen at that point.’’

Gas up for another drive

Pitcher Casey Sadler’s journey back to the majors on Friday made for a cool story, as he, his wife and their 2-year-old daughter drove 15½ hours to the Trop in their SUV pulling a 36-foot camper they live in during the season.

But the business side surfaced Saturday as Sadler, after throwing two innings Friday, was optioned back to Triple A so the Rays could add Jake Faria as a fresh arm.

Faria, who had a solid camp hoping to make amends for a rough 2018, wasn’t off to a good start at Durham, 1-0, 6.35 with 15 hits and eight walks in 11 1/3 innings, with 17 strikeouts, but gave the Rays two strong innings Saturday allowing only one hit.

“He was outstanding,’’ Cash said. “That’s probably the best Jake Faria we’ve seen in a while. … He picked us up. … He should be feeling pretty good.’’

Role modeling

Outfielder Tommy Pham spoke before the game to a group of kids from the Poynter Institute’s Write Field program for African-American and Hispanic middle and high school students.

“They had great questions; I’m impressed,’’ Pham said. “I just give them my life experiences, that’s all. And they take whatever they can from it.’’ Pham is partnering with the Rays to bring 10-20 kids to a game each month.

For openers

The Rays celebrated use of the opener pitching strategy, giving out a (bottle) opener in the likeness of Ryne Stanek, who handles most of the opener assignments, and having advocate Brian Kenny, the MLB Network host, throw out the first pitch. “I honestly laughed really hard when they told me I had (an opener giveaway),’’ Stanek said. “Then I saw it … and I was like, ‘That’s pretty cool.’ ’’

Quote of the day

“Me and Charlie just goof around and say weird words to each other all the time.’’

Tyler Glasnow, Sunday’s Rays starter detailing his ways of keeping things light on between-starts days

Miscellany

• The Rays hit a team-record four triples, matching their total from the first 20 games of the season. They are the first team in the majors to do so this season, and only one did last year, the A’s at Texas on July 26. The Rays are the first team to lose while hitting four triples in a game since the Royals in 1998, to Detroit.

• Cash said they were optimistic first baseman Ji-Man Choi wouldn’t need to go on the injured list after leaving the game due to left calf tightness following his triple. His availability for Sunday could lead the Rays to activate infielder Joey Wendle, who is ready to come off the injured list after a hamstring strain, but was told he may have to wait another day or two until they feel they could handle sending down a pitcher.

• Catcher Catcher Mike Zunino and his wife, Alyssa, welcomed a son, Rhett. Cash said all were doing well. Zunino can remain on the paternity list until Monday.

• Reliever Jalen Beeks was honored and excited to get his 2018 Red Sox World Series ring on Friday, but he doesn’t envision wearing the hefty 14-carat white gold, ruby-and-diamond laden ornament much. “Not going to flash it around,’’ said Beeks, traded by Boston to the Rays in July. “I’m going to find a safety deposit box because it’s enormous, and it’s pretty.’’

• Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi went on the injured list because of a “loose body” in his right elbow. A similar situation last spring while he was with the Rays led to arthroscopic surgery and a two-month absence.

• Reminder, it’s a 2:10 start Sunday due to Easter.

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