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.