The loss of starter/bulk inning pitcher Michael Wacha to a hamstring issue led to an earlier-than-scheduled return from the injured list for Collin McHugh.
The Rays had planned for McHugh to test his previously strained back one more time in a simulated game on Wednesday. But when Wacha went down Tuesday, likely moving Rich Hill back into a starting role, McHugh, out since April 17, was activated to fill a multi-inning relief slot.
“Collin was totally fine, he was good with either way,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ll be responsible knowing that we’ve worked hard to get him back. And we’re not going to risk injury by shaving one day off his workload.”
The Rays should get another key piece of their bullpen back on Wednesday, when Pete Fairbanks is expected to return from a shoulder strain, an injury he first feared could keep him out until June.
“I think we were able to nip it, kind of,” said Fairbanks, who last pitched April 6 at Fenway Park. “It was at the threshold of pain where I couldn’t throw through it in Boston. I think that we were able to catch it early and get to a place where I feel healthy and ready to go.”
It’s ‘Sho Time’ for Angels
Two-way standout Shohei Ohtani will start against the Rays on Wednesday, two days later than planned due to soreness on his right elbow after being hit by a pitch Sunday. Angels manager Joe Maddon said Ohtani, who homered as the DH Monday and was in the lineup again Tuesday, told him he was good to go to pitch Wednesday. Maddon said he was planning to also let Ohtani hit, meaning the Angels will go without a DH, as they did in two of Ohtani’s first three starts.
Making a plea
Pitcher Luis Patino used his Instagram account to speak out about the unrest in his native Colombia, where 19 are reported dead and hundreds injured during protests against a government-led tax overhaul to address economic shortfalls resulting from the pandemic.
Patino posted in Spanish and English that the Colombian people “are suffering” and “being silenced as cruel as possible” and asked followers to share his post to draw attention to the situation.
“It’s not something I really like talking about too much, but I know in the position that I’m in as an athlete, we’ve got voices,” Patino said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “Luckily, all my family’s fine, and everything that happens over there hopefully turns out to be okay. …. If there’s a way I can support my country in any way possible, I’m definitely going to be a voice for it.”
• First baseman Ji-Man Choi started a planned six-day rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham, going 0-for-2 with a sac fly. Cash said if all goes well, Choi, who had March right knee surgery, could potentially be activated when the Rays return home May 11.
• Top prospect Wander Franco started at shortstop for the Bulls in the opener at Memphis, and went 3-for-5 with two RBIs in his Triple-A debut, tripling for his first hit. Taylor Walls played second and Vidal Brujan rightfield. Low-A Charleston (S.C.) beat Myrtle Beach 6-3 on opening night; Double-A Montgomery and High-A Bowling Green were rained out.
• Monday was the eighth nine-inning game in franchise history in which the Rays scored seven or more runs and struck out at least 15 times (four off their record), and the fourth since the start of the 2019 season.
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