Last spring, Kevin Padlo wasn’t even thinking about his baseball career anymore.
An unrelenting barrage of headaches had him, his family and the Rays seriously worried about his health, and he missed the start of camp while undergoing a battery of tests and visits to specialists that didn’t yield any answers.
Eventually, Padlo was diagnosed with no worse than “daily persistent headaches” and given a prescription to help manage them. He was able to rejoin the team just before the spring shutdown and participate in workouts at the Port Charlotte alternate site when the season resumed.
Padlo reported to camp this year feeling good, mostly over the headaches, and impressed with a solid showing at the plate and the ability to play first, second and third base.
Tuesday, the Rays made him feel even better, promoting him to the big leagues after centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier went on the injured list due to a quad strain.
“It’s unreal to think that at this time last year pretty much, I was in rough shape not only physically, (but) mentally, didn’t know where I was as far as baseball. Like, that was at the back of my mind,” Padlo, 24, said from Boston.
“It was tough for me ... with the things that I went through in spring training and not knowing exactly what was going on with me and all the question marks. So to finally get relief and healthy was a big step forward. And now to be at this point, it’s just very exciting.”
Padlo not only was in the majors but also the lineup, playing third and batting eighth at historic Fenway Park, though going 0-for-2.
Acquired from the Rockies in January 2016 with Corey Dickerson for Jake McGee and German Marquez, Padlo has intrigued the Rays with his power. .
“It’s been a long, long adventure to get here,’' Padlo said.
How long Padlo stays with the Rays is unclear. With Kiermaier out and Yoshi Tsustugo playing first, the team is low on outfielders. Brett Phillips, sidelined mid-spring with a hamstring strain, is feeling better, testing his leg in game-like conditions in Port Charlotte. He is eligible to come off the injured list for Friday’s home opener, though manager Kevin Cash said that seemed “a pretty quick turnaround” and would be discussed further.
The Rays added a catcher, claiming Deivy Grullon (groo-YOHN) off waivers from the Reds. Grullon, 25, spent most of his career in the Phillies’ minor-league system, hitting 21 homers at Double-A in 2018 and again at Triple-A in 2019. He played in four games for the Phillies in 2019 and one for the Red Sox last year. He was claimed off waivers in December by the Reds, who designated him for assignment Saturday. The Rays made room on the 40-man roster by shifting reliever Chaz Roe (shoulder strain) from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list.
• Wednesday’s 1:10 p.m. game is available to watch only via YouTube, as part of an exclusive deal with Major League Baseball. Per the league, the game can be accessed free via the MLB channel on YouTube.com or the YouTube app, or by subscribing to YouTube TV. (There is the usual radio coverage.)
• Pitchers Rich Hill and Chris Archer are lined up for the first two games against the Yankees, with a decision pending for Sunday’s game between Michael Wacha (possibly behind and opener) and Tyler Glasnow.
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