Rays' Jake Odorizzi likely headed to disabled list

Jake Odorizzi, center, getting pulled from Friday night’s game, says he’s optimistic he won’t miss much time.
Jake Odorizzi, center, getting pulled from Friday night’s game, says he’s optimistic he won’t miss much time.
Published June 7, 2015

SEATTLE — The Rays won't know the full extent of starter Jake Odorizzi's oblique injury until he sees their doctors Monday back in St. Petersburg.

But seeing him walk off the mound during Friday's game, and knowing how cautious they tend to be with pitchers, is enough to say that Odorizzi is likely headed to the disabled list, the latest blow to an already depleted staff.

Manager Kevin Cash said before Saturday's game that no decisions had been made, but it was "fair to say" Odorizzi would miss some time.

"I wouldn't say a lengthy period of time, but he's sore," Cash said. "We have to be smart with him. The last thing we want to do is get him out there and test it, and then something more or worse happens."

Odorizzi was in the fifth inning of a scoreless game — one the Rays would eventually win 1-0 — when he winced and nearly doubled over after throwing a pitch, the result of what they for now are calling left oblique tightness.

Odorizzi wanted to try to keep pitching, but Cash and assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker wouldn't let him, hoping to prevent him from making it worse, which could lead to an extended absence if it was a full strain.

Starter Alex Cobb missed 5½ weeks when he strained his right oblique last season and needed several starts after returning to regain his form.

Odorizzi said he was "optimistic" based on how he felt waking up Saturday. "It was no worse than" Friday, he said. "I was able to move around and turn around and do all that stuff. I wasn't locked up or anything like that, so that's a good sign."

But he also acknowledged that he won't know for sure until he tries to throw, which won't happen until after he sees team orthopedist Koco Eaton.

Odorizzi had emerged this season, along with Chris Archer, as one of the top starters in a Rays rotation that has lost Cobb for the season and most of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery; will be without Drew Smyly for at least an extended period if not the rest of the season due to a torn labrum; and is still waiting for Matt Moore to complete his rehab from April 2014 elbow surgery around the end of June or early July.

Odorizzi is 4-5 with a 2.67 ERA and until Friday had worked at least six innings in each start, an important contribution given how heavily the Rays have used their bullpen.

"It's definitely not what we need right now because he's a huge part of this team," Archer said. "He's worked so hard, and I know that right now he probably feels like he is letting the team down a bit because he takes pride in making 30-plus starts a year like we all do.

"Right now I'm glad we're being cautious, I'm glad we're being patient, because he could be back shortly. If he would have tried to throw another pitch, or if he would try to go out there and try to play catch (Saturday) he could aggravate it even more."

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Having Monday off gives the Rays some time to adjust their rotation assuming Odorizzi is out. Nathan Karns will start Tuesday and Erasmo Ramirez Wednesday against the Angels. Odorizzi was slated for Thursday, but the Rays could bring Alex Colome back on regular rest, or summon a starter from Triple-A Durham, with Matt Andriese most likely.