ST. PETERSBURG — Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow returns to the Tropicana Field mound Saturday night.
Glasnow, who suffered a right forearm strain May 10 against the Yankees, has taken the long way back to the rotation. After months of rest and rehabilitation — including some early optimism, a shutdown period and some rehab outings — there were two innings and five strikeouts Sept. 8 against the Blue Jays, then a 51-pitch, three-inning scoreless road stint Sept. 14 against the Angels.
Glasnow said he expects to go approximately four innings Saturday.
“It’s going to be dependent on how he’s performing and how he’s looking,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “We want to do right by him. But we’re in a position where we don’t have a ton of time to just be patient and let him work through things.’’
Either way, Glasnow is grateful to return.
“This is the most meaningful baseball I’ve ever played,’’ he said. “I’m extremely excited. In my mind, I was always pretty sure I was going to get back. It’s nice to be back now, where every game means so much.’’
At the time of his injury, he was 6-1 with a 1.86 ERA in eight starts. The return of Glasnow — and left-hander Blake Snell, who is scheduled to pitch Monday against the Red Sox — has provided energy for the Rays.
“Just getting them back and seeing them on the mound has meant a lot,’’ outfielder Austin Meadows said. “We’ve been a pretty resilient bunch this season. It’s nice to get a boost.’’
Cash said that All-Star infielder Brandon Lowe, out since July 2 with a shin injury followed by a setback (quad injury/bruised right leg), will play an Instructional League game Saturday. Then Lowe’s situation will be “revisited.’’
Lowe, who has 16 home runs and 49 RBIs in 76 games, said he’s ready for a return.
“I feel really good,’’ he said. “I want to be back to help the team in any way possible. The sooner, the better, in my opinion. I have to clear stuff with the training staff and the coaches to make sure I look good out there and I’m able to help the team.
“I feel really good right now. That’s all I can do, as much as I can do. I feel as good as I can and (I want to ) look as good as I can to force coaches and front office to make a decision.’’
Cash said he thinks right-hander Yonny Chirinos, out since Aug. 5 with right middle finger inflammation, will be available out of the bullpen this weekend.
“He won’t have that starting (opportunity), but he’s going to energize us because he has meant so much to us this season,’’ Cash said.
Meanwhile, infielder Eric Sogard is still “sore and banged up a little bit’’ after fouling a ball off his leg, according to Cash. But Sogard could be available off the bench this weekend.
Minor-leaguer Zacrey Law, who played this season with Class A Charlotte, will be with the Rays during the stretch run for pregame bullpen catching and any other needed tasks.
“However I can help, I’ll do it,’’ said Law, who was drafted as a high school outfielder by the Rays in 2014, then converted to catcher three years later. “I’m super stoked about it. I think since they have so many pitchers (with the expanded roster), I’ll be busy.’’
After the pregame work, Law planned on sitting in the stands to watch the game with his wife, Kamryn.
“Just glad to be a part of this,’’ said Law, whose progress was slowed by a torn labrum two years ago.
• Meadows went 0-for-4 with a walk Friday against the Red Sox to end his 16-game hitting streak, three short of the club record (19, Jason Bartlett, May 15-June 25, 2009).
• Former Red Sox star pitcher Luis Tiant will sign autographs Saturday and Sunday at Gate 1 until game time for a $20 donation to the Trop’s Ted Williams Museum. Copies of the 78-year-old Tiant’s book, Son of Havana, will be available.
• On Roberto Clemente Day, centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier was recognized as the Rays nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes character, philanthropy and giving back to the community. Kiermaier selected Ronald McDonald Charities of Tampa Bay to receive a $7,500 donation from Major League Baseball. Clemente’s son Luis, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
• Carol King of St. Petersburg won the Behind the Scenes Experience contest, sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times. King — accompanied by daughter Julie and friends Donna DeSanto and Carol Domek — accompanied the Times’ Rays beat writer Marc Topkin during interviews with Cash and players, dined in the Rays Club, spent a few innings in the press box and watched most of the game from front-row seats.