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Rays, dealing with loss of Nick Anderson, take on Red Sox

Josh Fleming will get a look in a bulk-inning relief role today, which is his best shot of making the team.
High-leverage reliever Nick Anderson will miss at least the first half of the season due to a partially torn elbow ligament.
High-leverage reliever Nick Anderson will miss at least the first half of the season due to a partially torn elbow ligament. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Mar. 26, 2021|Updated Mar. 26, 2021

Rays players and staff on Friday were sorting out how they will cover for the loss of high-leverage reliever Nick Anderson, who will miss at least the first half of the season due to a partially torn elbow ligament.

“I don’t think anybody’s feeling too great and certainly not in the best moods,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Nick has been an invaluable part of our club. We’re not getting to or having the success we’ve had if it wasn’t for his contributions.

“Saying that, we feel good about our bullpen, where guys can step up, take on bigger roles. When you play in the postseason back-to-back years, you need a lot of guys to find ways to win and have success. And our guys, we’re confident they’re seasoned for that.”

Diego Castillo and Pete Fairbanks shared high-leverage work with Anderson, and Cash said the team will need others to step up, given the significant role Anderson filled. As Fairbanks said, “Ando, he’s one hell of a fireman for us. So that’s hard to replace in any capacity.”

Anderson said “it sucks” to know he’ll be sidelined, shut down from throwing for eight weeks and potentially not pitching in games until August, but he also felt some relief in finding out what was wrong and also that surgery was not recommended. He said he was still finalizing details but was likely to try a PRP or stem cell injection to help the healing process.

The Rays will start David Hess, who already has been reassigned to minor-league camp, against the Red Sox today. But the more relevant question will be how lefty Josh Fleming, who is competing for a bullpen job, does working in a bulk-relief role.

Also Friday:

* C Kevan Smith got good news on his sore back, good enough that he was reassigned to the minors so he can start ramping up baseball activity.

* Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier completed intake testing after being away a few days to attend to the birth of his second son and is expected in the lineup Saturday.

* Outfielder Randy Arozarena, sidelined since Monday with a sore left wrist, took batting practice on the field, and if all feels well will rejoin the lineup Saturday, as well.

Here is the Rays lineup, with Mike Brosseau moved to second base after originally being listed in leftfield:

And for the Red Sox:

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