ST. PETERSBURG — Reliever Jalen Beeks is the latest Rays pitcher sidelined for the season.
Beeks was placed on the 45-day injured list Wednesday with what the Rays called an elbow sprain, but is another way of saying a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament.
That was the worst-case news for the Rays, as Beeks becomes the 10th key pitcher sidelined due to injury. But it wasn’t unexpected news.
Manager Kevin Cash said the injury that occurred in the ninth inning Tuesday was similar to what happened earlier this season to reliever Andrew Kittredge, who was diagnosed with a season-ending torn ulnar collateral ligament and is trying a rehab program to avoid having Tommy John surgery, which would sideline him for 12 to 15 months.
Lefty reliever Ryan Sherriff, who last pitched in the majors for St. Louis in May 2018 before injuries disrupted his career, was called up from the Port Charlotte camp and added to the roster.
Beeks worked the eighth and had just gotten the first out of the ninth after throwing his sixth pitch when he looked toward the dugout and was shaking his arm, drawing a visit from manager Kevin Cash and assistant athletic trainer Mark Vinson, then promptly leaving with an issue in his forearm/elbow area.
The Rays already are missing six members of their planned opening day bullpen (Jose Alvarado, Nick Anderson, Oliver Drake, Kittredge, Colin Poche, Chaz Roe) plus two starters (Yonny Chirinos and Charlie Morton) and their top fill-in (Brendan McKay). Poche and Chirinos had Tommy John surgery that will keep them out most or possibly all of 2021. McKay had a tear in his labrum repaired and will be out until early 2021 at the least.
Beeks had grown impressively into a multi-inning relief role with the Rays and with the recent injuries had been given some high-leverage opportunities, including logging what he called his first real save at Yankee Stadium last week. In 12 games he had a 3.26 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings.