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Family of Rays minor-leaguer Blake Bivens killed in Virginia

Another relative has been charged in the murders; Rays say "our hearts are broken for Blake.''
Rays minor-leaguer Blake Bivens, shown in a 2016 photo while with Bowling Green, was with Montgomery this season. [STEVE ROBERTS/CAL SPORT MEDIA | AP]
Published Aug. 28
Updated Aug. 28

HOUSTON — The wife, 1-year-old son and mother-in-law of Rays minor-league pitcher Blake Bivens were killed Tuesday morning in their Virginia hometown and police apprehended and charged a relative in their murder.

Word of a “a tragedy” involving the family of a Rays player had been circulating Tuesday, and ESPN was the first to report the connection to Bivens, and that the suspect was the 18-year-old brother of Bivens’ wife, Emily.

The Rays then issued a statement saying Bivens “suffered a terrible family tragedy in southern Virginia. Our hearts are broken for Blake. We are grieving with him and will support him any way we can. We ask that everyone respect the privacy of the Bivens family and the Biscuits family during this extremely difficult time.’’

Biscuits CEO Lou DiBella noted in a statement that Bivens “suffered unimaginable loss” and also asked that his privacy be respected: "The Biscuits thoughts and prayers are with Blake and all those who have been impacted by this tragedy.''

The Biscuits canceled a scheduled doubleheader and returned to Montgomery, where they are slated to open a homestand Thursday. Bivens was headed home to Virginia accompanied by a Rays representative.

Bivens, 24, was a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft from George Washington High in Danville, Va., who was working his way slowly through the system, reaching Double A last year and returning there this season.

Without connecting Bivens to the incident, the Danville (Va.) Register & Bee reported on the triple homicide and said that the police apprehended 18-year-old Matthew Bernard unarmed and naked shortly after noon Tuesday in Keeling, Va.

Alvarado checks out okay; McKay likely, too

Whatever elbow pain reliever Jose Alvarado felt after his rough Saturday outing doesn’t appear to be anything serious. Tendinitis was the diagnosis manager Kevin Cash relayed after Alvarado underwent an MRI and an exam by Dr. Koco Eaton, with the expectation that with rest and treatment Alvarado should be able to return this season. “If you go in and look at any pitcher’s arm right now, at this point in the season, you can find something,’’ Cash said. “So we’ll continue to monitor it.’’

Cash said the Rays are optimistic Brendan McKay will be back pitching in the majors in September after what is expected to be a short stay on the Triple-A injured list due shoulder fatigue. “I think this is more precautionary,’’ Cash said., “We're going to do everything we can to make sure that we give him ample rest so when he does get back up here that he can help us.’’ McKay may first make a short outing for Durham this weekend; he is eligible to be reinstated Friday.

Kiermaier too sore to start Tuesday

Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier did not play Tuesday given lingering soreness on his left side from crashing into the outfield wall Sunday in Baltimore. Kiermaier came in early Tuesday to test himself and said he felt too much discomfort when he tried swinging at balls on a tee at a “very low effort level,’’ and decided it would be smarter to sit out another day with hopes of rejoining the lineup Wednesday. “There’s muscles that are still aggravated,’’ he said. “Talking with the trainers, I’d be pushing the limits if I was out there (Tuesday).’’ Kiermaier was hurt trying, unsuccessfully, to make a leaping catch in a game the Rays were losing 6-3 at the time, and said had he known he wouldn’t make the catch, the Rays wouldn’t come back and he’d be knocked out of the lineup, he would have done things different.

More medical: Glasnow, Snell, Chirinos updates

Tyler Glasnow (forearm strain) is set to pitch an inning Friday for the advanced Class A Stone Crabs in what Cash said likely will be three-four rehab outings after an “encouraging” 15-pitch live batting practice session Tuesday in Port Charlotte. … Blake Snell (elbow surgery) is tentatively slated to advance from playing catch to throwing off the mound Friday, Cash saying “everythings’s going really well for him.” … Yonny Chirinos (middle finger inflammation) also played catch “and said (Tuesday) was the best his finger’s felt.’’

Quote of the day

When you think Tampa Bay baseball, he’s probably going to be at the forefront of that, everything that he did to get baseball into the (area). Very well documented, recognized and ultimately appreciated by our fans.’’

- Manager Kevin Cash, on original Rays owner Vince Naimoli, who died Sunday. The Rays will recognize him with a pre-game moment of silence Friday and start wearing a VJN patch on the right sleeve of their jerseys.

Miscellany

* The trip to Houston was also a homecoming for third-base coach Rodney Linares, who spent 21 years in the Astros organization, the last four as an upper-level minor-league manager who got late-season callups to the big-league staff. “It feels good seeing the guys, some of the kids I spent a lot of the years with and a lot of the staff,’’ he said.

* Cash said they haven’t discussed the specific number of callups they’ll make starting Sept. 1 "but I’d imagine we’re going to have a pretty healthy roster.’’

* Trevor Richards is set to pitch in Thursday’s series finale, either starting or behind an opener.

* Triple-A Durham infielders Jake Cronenworth and Kean Wong were named to the International League All-Star team. … Class A Bowling Green cliched a spot it the Midwest League playoffs for a fourth straight season.

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