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Rays bullpen shuffle continues with Diego Castillo back, Chaz Roe on IL

Roe has a flexor strain, Wood is called up. Also, Choi will be back this weekend, B. Lowe not until next week.
DIRK SHADD   |   Times
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Guillermo Heredia, on left, and pitcher Diego Castillo give each other a hug as they say hello in the outfield as the Rays workout for the first time since the All-Star break at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, on Thursday, July 11, 2019.
DIRK SHADD | Times Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Guillermo Heredia, on left, and pitcher Diego Castillo give each other a hug as they say hello in the outfield as the Rays workout for the first time since the All-Star break at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, on Thursday, July 11, 2019.
Published Jul. 12, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG – Diego Castillo is set to rejoin the Rays’ beleaguered bullpen on Friday, saying the time away dealing with shoulder inflammation should also help him pitch better than he did in a rough stretch before going on the injured list June 23.

“It definitely helped,’’ Castillo said, via team translator Manny Navarro. “Obviously with the physical ailment like that, like I had, it’s going to affect the way you pitch. But, yes, having the time off and doing my rehab and my work, I think it’s helped prepare me accordingly.’’

The Rays are hoping he can help, as they are now without two of their more experienced, though recently struggling, relievers.

Chaz Roe unexpectedly joined Jose Alvarado on the injured list due to a right flexor strain, and it’s not clear yet how long he will be out. Alvarado is expected to miss six-eight weeks due to a right oblique strain.

Emilio Pagan seems the likely choice of the highest leverage opportunities, and Castillo will get some as well, though manager Kevin Cash said won’t assign specific roles.

“We’re going to have to continue to be versatile and be able to mix and match,’’ Cash said. “There’s going to be a handful of guys that will pitch in those eighth and ninth inning roles.’’

Castillo will fill one of the open roster spots, and Hunter Wood is being called up for the other.

Choi close, B. Lowe not so much

First baseman Ji-Man Choi said his previously strained left ankle is better, and Cash said he is set to be activated Saturday or Sunday. All-Star infielder Brandon Lowe said in Cleveland he was hoping to return when eligible Saturday from the bruised right leg that sidelined him, but Cash from what he has heard that is unlikely, and that more realistic timetable is to return sometime next week. … Infielder Matt Duffy, out all season with left hamstring issues, has made it to Triple-A Durham on his rehab, with plans to play through Saturday and be re-evaluated. If all continues to go well, he could be ready sometime next week.

Snell, Morton’s workloads being watched

The decision to delay Blake Snell’s next start until Monday in New York was part strategic, so he could start the opener of the key four-game series with the Yankees, and part physical, as Cash said they are monitoring his workload, currently 90 innings. Though All-Star Charlie Morton is starting in Saturday’s doubleheader, after Brendan McKay, who will be called up as the 26th man, he may begin getting more time between starts given the “really strong pace” of throwing 112 2/3 innings already. “We’re going to have to sit and talk with him and see what we can do better,’’ Cash said. “I don’t think we want him to be throwing 220 innings before the potential postseason.’’

Jeff Vinik is not the answer

Though principal owner Stuart Sternberg has said repeatedly he is no plans to sell the team, the Tampa Bay Times hears often from fans suggesting Lightning owner Jeff Vinik should buy thy team, and that he then could easily solve the stadium issue.

Vinik told The Athletic website he has no interest in getting involved by buying the Rays if they were available. “No plans to do that,” he said. “I don’t think about it. I’ve got so many great things going on. I love the sport of hockey. My plate is overflowing, so I don’t see it.” Vinik said he found the plan to share home games with Montreal “creative” and “interesting,” that it’s good for the region to keep the Rays and "I hope they can stay here, at least in some manner.”


* Catcher Nick Ciuffo, the 2013 first-round pick released last week to clear 40-man roster space, signed a minor-league deal with the Reds. Ciuffo remains on the injured list with a left thumb sprain was assigned to Double-A.

* The Rays signed their top 21 draft picks, and 31 of 42 overall, heading to Friday’s 5 p.m. deadline, with at least two more deals expected.

* Fox Sports Sun reported ratings through the All-Star break up 23 percent from the same point last year, with a 2.85 HH average, in 53,450 homes. It was 2.41 last year, 2.73 in 2017.

* Outfielder Jesus Sanchez and righthander Sam McWilliams were promoted from Double-A Montgomery to Triple-A Durham.

* Kean Wong went 1-for-4 playing third base and Jake Cronenworth 0-for-2 playing shortstop as starters for the International League team in Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game, won 9-3 by the PCL squad.


  1. Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi watches pitchers in the bullpen during a spring training baseball workout Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, in Clearwater, Fla. [FRANK FRANKLIN II  |  AP]
  2. The Rays are hoping the rain holds off and they can play today in Port Charlotte. [MARC TOPKIN  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka speaks during a celebration of life for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Los Angeles. [MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ  |  AP]
  4. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Charlie Morton (50) works in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday  in Sarasota. [JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP]
  5. The wildfire burned over 220 acres, but Charlotte County officials said no homes were lost. [Charlotte County Fire and EMS]
  6. Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Charlie Morton (50) pitches at the top of the first inning against Cleveland Indians on Sunday, Sept. 01, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.   [Times]
  7. Imagine what Tropicana Field would be like if fans showed up every day the way they did for Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Astros last October. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  8. Jose Altuve and other Astros stars hear it from fans in Lakeland, who aren't shy about reminding them of the sign-signing scandal. [FRANK FRANKLIN II  |  AP]
  9. Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (25), left, celebrates his solo home run with Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Willy Adames (1) during the fourth inning of a spring training game against the Boston Red Sox Monday, Feb. 24, 2020 in Port Charlotte. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
  10. Fans line up to enter Tropicana Field during Game 3 of the 2019 American League Division Series (ALDS) Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in St. Petersburg. [MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times]
  11. Tampa Bay Rays pitchers Trevor Richards, left, and John Curtiss in practice during spring training in Port Charlotte. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]