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Rays reliever Jose Alvarado nears return to majors

On the injured list since July 7, the hard-throwing left-hander plans to rejoin the active roster next weekend.
Rays reliever Jose Alvarado pitches in the seventh inning against the Yankees on July 6, 2019, at Tropicana Field. [ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times]
Rays reliever Jose Alvarado pitches in the seventh inning against the Yankees on July 6, 2019, at Tropicana Field. [ALLIE GOULDING | Times]
Published Aug. 4, 2019
Updated Aug. 4, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — After missing nearly a month with a right oblique strain, left-handed reliever Jose Alvarado is nearing his return to the Rays’ active roster.

Alvarado, who landed on the 10-day injured list retro to July 7, threw a bullpen session Friday and said he is feeling “100 percent.” He said he hopes to make his return to the bullpen during the upcoming road trip to Seattle.

Alvarado is scheduled to go to Port Charlotte on Sunday for his first rehab appearance with the advanced Class-A Stone Crabs, then travel to Durham, where he plans to pitch back-to-back games with the Triple-A Bulls on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“I feel ready to go,” he said.

MORE RAYS: Tampa Bay flexes its muscle against the Marlins

Alvarado started off the season as a key member of the Rays bullpen, but he has not been able to contribute much over the past two months. He posted a 3.09 ERA over 23⅓ innings from the start of the season through June 1, then left the team to care for his ailing mother in Venezuela.

Upon returning to the roster on June 29, Alvarado made only four appearances, allowing seven earned runs over 3⅓ innings before heading to the injured list.

“When he comes back, we want to see him back where he’s throwing strikes,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We’re going to pay attention to that in all of his outings.”

New guys, old teams

Only three days after right-handers Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards were acquired from Miami, the Rays welcomed the Marlins for a two-game weekend series.

“It’s a little weird,” Anderson said of facing his former team. “I’m just sitting back, trying to take it like any other game.”

The reliever said there is no significant advantage in facing his ex-mates.

“Every hitter has their strengths and weaknesses, and I have my strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “I kind of just, no matter what, try to stick to the same thing.”

Anderson stuck to his strengths Saturday, firing six fastballs in a seven-pitch, scoreless eighth inning against the Marlins.

Nick Anderson threw only seven pitches, six of which were fastballs, in a scoreless inning against the Marlins on Saturday. [Courtesy of Baseball Savant]

In his first outing with the Rays, Anderson allowed a double but otherwise impressed with a scoreless inning against the Red Sox on Thursday. Richards was sent down to Triple-A Durham.

“(Anderson) had been solid in the back of our bullpen, and really, almost historically solid,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “(They’re) great kids, great workers, so (the Rays) got two good ones.”

In exchange for Anderson and Richards, the Marlins received right-handed reliever Ryne Stanek and outfield prospect Jesus Sanchez. Stanek, who served as the Rays’ primary opener, is currently on the injured list and did not travel with Miami to the Trop. The Marlins expect him to join the team today, but he will not be activated to face the Rays.

Mattingly said he plans to use Stanek in the back end of the bullpen.

Injury updates

Infielder Yandy Diaz ran on a treadmill, but there remains no timetable for his return. He landed on the injured list retro to July 22 with a left foot bruise.

All-Star and primary second baseman Brandon Lowe took ground balls before the game, the first time he has done so in several days. Lowe, out with a right shin contusion since July 3, said that a cortisone shot has greatly improved his rehab. “Hopefully it keeps progressing and I’m back out there soon,” he said. There is no timetable for his return.

Miscellany

Right-handed reliever Diego Castillo opened Saturday’s game, the 34th time the Rays had used an opener this season. After trading Ryne Stanek on Wednesday, the Rays plan to shuffle relievers into the opener role rather than designate an assigned opener.

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