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Rays’ Tommy Pham ready to return to action

The leftfielder looks to play in matinee against Tigers
Rays outfielder Tommy Pham (29) hasn't played since straining his calf against the Minnesota Twins on May 30. ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times
Rays outfielder Tommy Pham (29) hasn't played since straining his calf against the Minnesota Twins on May 30. ALLIE GOULDING | Times
Published Jun. 6, 2019
Updated Jun. 6, 2019

DETROIT — As long as Tommy Pham doesn’t wake up Thursday feeling any discomfort in his previously strained right calf, he will be back in the Tampa Bay lineup for the first time since May 30.

And he is confident the Rays, who lost the first four games he missed before winning Wednesday, will be better for it.

“It’s been tough watching the team play; we haven’t been as successful lately,’’ Pham said before the 4-0 win over the Tigers. “We’ve played a lot of close games and I know I could have made a difference in ‘em. That’s what’s tough.

"With me in the lineup it makes it a little bit deeper. I’m a tougher out. I help others when I’m in the lineup, whether I’m getting on base or if there’s guys on base they have to pitch to me different. There’s whole different angles you can look at this. If I’m on base a guy might get a little bit more fastballs. Or if someone else is on base everyone knows I’m going to be a tough out – I get on base 40 percent of the time and that helps any lineup.’’

Related: MORE RAYS: Morton helps Tampa Bay snap four-game skid

Manager Kevin Cash said it’s obvious they missed Pham, who was hitting .300 with eight homers, 25 RBIs and an .897 OPS.

“Pretty big presence in the lineup, I can’t argue that,’’ he said. “He definitely lengthens out our lineup. The one thing with Tommy, whether he’s hitting or not, he’s always pretty taxing on the opposing pitcher. And sometimes it helps get other guys good pitches to hit.’’

Pham said he was “cleared” to play again when he ran at 100 percent for the first time Wednesday, and is “1000 percent” sure he will be ready to go in the matinee series finale. Cash said that is the plan as long as he comes in feeling good and they hope he will “manage” the situation by not overdoing things.

Pham said if he’s not in the Thursday lineup he and Cash would need to “have a serious talk.’’ Or, he joked, he’d go over his head: “I’d have to send a text to (GM Erik) Neander or something.’’

Related: MORE RAYS: Complete List of Tampa Bay's draft picks

More medical updates

Infielder Joey Wendle (broken right wrist) wanted to spend one more day working out with advanced Class A Charlotte before beginning a rehab assignment Thursday of undetermined length. “He’s going to deal with some soreness for a while,’’ Cash said. “He still feels it.” … Catcher Michael Perez (oblique) started his rehab with the Stone Crabs on Tuesday, and went 2-for-4 Wednesday as the DH in his second game, but may be there a while. “He’s doing okay,’’ Cash said. “We’ve got to get Mikey over the hump a little bit. Coming back from injuries has been a challenge for him in the past. It seems like it’s being a challenge right now. But he is playing, so hopefully we continue to see progress. … Infielder Andrew Velazquez went on the injured list at Triple A Durham with a left thumb sprain expected to sideline him for up to two weeks.

Related: MORE RAYS: Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays game.

Special of the day

The Rays sold out of $5 tickets for the Friday, June 14, game against the Angels in about 24 hours, but as of Wednesday evening had then available for the other four games as part of the Summer Special flash sale: June 10-12 vs. Oakland, June 13 vs. Los Angeles. The team said 5,000 tickets would be available at the discounted price for each game. The sale continues until 11:59 p.m. Thursday at raysbaseball.com/specials.

The grand-grand treatment

Tuesday was the first game in the majors this season with grand slams by both teams, and the first involving the Rays since 2007.

The List
Date Rays hitter Opposing hitter
5/3/1998 Paul Sorrento Sandy Alomar Jr., Indians
6/26/2001 Greg Vaughn Trot Nixon, Red Sox
7/22/2004 Rocco Baldelli Nick Punto, Twins
9/25/2007 Jorge Velandia Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
6/4/2019 Willy Adames Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Miscellany

• Shortstop Wander Franco headlines eight Bowling Green Hot Rods named to the June 18 Class A Midwest League All-Star Game. Franco, catcher Chris Betts and DH Roberto Alvarez were chosen as starters, with outfielder Grant Witherspoon a reserve and Shane McClanahan, Easton McGee, Caleb Sampen and Alan Strong among the pitchers.

• Austin Meadows, who went into play Wednesday hitting .356, is just the fourth Ray to lead the AL in hitting after May 31 in a season, joining Jason Bartlett (2009), Matt Joyce (2011), Corey Dickerson (2017). The latest date any Ray has led is June 26; Dickerson in 2017.

• The Sunday-Tuesday games marked the first time the Rays yielded nine or more runs in back-to-back games since July 27-28, 2018, and was part of a stretch of allowing 29 runs on 47 hits over four games. Then Wednesday they posted their sixth shutout of the season.

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TB_Times_Rays.

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