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With Tyler Glasnow shut down again, Rays move forward unsure of his return

The Rays were hoping to get right-hander back right after the break. Now, a late-August return appears to be the best-case scenario.
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow (20) is seen in the dugout after being taken out of the game in the top of the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox Sunday, April 21, 2019 in St. Petersburg. (CHRIS URSO | Times)
Published Jun. 26
Updated Jun. 26

MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays saw the pending return of right-hander Tyler Glasnow from the injured list much like a midseason acquisition. But now, after being shut down from his most-recent throwing progression with more discomfort in his right forearm, there’s really no telling when Glasnow will return.

The team was aiming for a post all-star break return — Glasnow is eligible to return from the 60-day injured list on July 10 ― but now it appears Glasnow won’t resume throwing until well after the all-star break, and best-case scenario, he’s now likely looking toward a late-August return.

“It’s frustrating," manager Kevin Cash said. "We knew we were on a little bit of an uphill battle when he started. He threw really well and then the day after just not feel as great. The good news is that we were proactive and we got him to the doctor, they looked at it, and it is a flexor (mass) strain, nothing other than that.

"We’ll shut him down 3-4 weeks and then we’ll build him back up. But we have to see Tyler, when he does get back to where he’s throwing, where he’s throwing and feeling good the next day and that’s the sign of a healthy pitcher and we have to get back to that point.”

The Rays have already been without Glasnow for six weeks. And inside the Rays clubhouse, where players were anticipating Glasnow's return following their stretch of 47 games in 48 games going into the break, they were thinking more about their teammate's long-term health. Flexor mass strains are injuries no pitcher wants to have, because they can be precursors to ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery, more commonly known as Tommy John surgery.

Cash said an MRI performed on Glasnow’s elbow area Monday was clean.

"There's a balance between wanting Tyler to pitch and wanting him to do what's best for his career," said right-hander Charlie Morton, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012. "That's just the reality of it. A guy gets hurt and it could have been a lot worse, and I think that's what we're trying to avoid. He's a friend and a teammate, and to me, that weighs more heavily, that he has a good career, than him coming back and rushing himself, possibly getting hurt and setting himself back even further."

Glasnow was off to the best start of his career, winning his first six decisions and posting a 6-1 record with a 1.86 ERA over his first 10 starts. Since then right-hander Yonny Chirinos has emerged as a dependable starting option. Seven of his 10 starts this season have been quality and he owns a 2.63 ERA as a starter.

“It’s disappointing, there’s no doubt. Look, he was the best pitcher in baseball before he got hurt. I’m not saying he is the best pitcher, but he was performing as a top pitcher, if not the best,” Cash said. "When you get that kind of production, that kind of performance and you don’t have it, it’s disappointing.

"But saying that, Yonny Chirinos has done a tremendous job for us. Ryan Yarbrough) has gotten on a pretty good run here. We’ve got a lot of depth in pitching. You never want to lose one of your better guys, but you want to rally around it a little bit together and find ways to pick him up while he’s down and hopefully we get some good news in three weeks and resume his throwing and see how quickly we can build him back up.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard

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