ST. PETERSBURG — With struggling Yoshi Tsutsugo designated for assignment on Tuesday, the Rays turned first to Kevin Padlo.
The power-hitting infielder was recalled from Triple-A Durham and started at third, adding a right-handed bat to the lineup against Yankees lefty Jordan Montgomery.
How long Padlo stays is not clear, as Ji-Man Choi is close to being activated from the injured list after rehabbing from right knee surgery. Maybe even close enough to be ready Wednesday, when he would face Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, against whom he is hitting .476 (10-for-21) with four homers.
The Rays had Choi play in a sixth rehab game for Triple-A Durham on Tuesday, going 0-for-4 — 6-for-23 overall. With reports from the Bulls coaching staff “encouraging,” Rays officials planned to talk more after Tuesday’s game about his status.
Manager Kevin Cash said there was “a chance” Choi, who will be primary first baseman, would be activated Wednesday, but the appeal of the matchup with Cole “will not sway” their decision. “I think it’s fair that within the next handful of days here Ji-Man will be joining us,” Cash said. The Rays could drop a pitcher to do so, keeping Padlo to help balance their lefty-heavy lineup.
Kiermaier returning sooner than later
Additional imaging on centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier’s left wrist was encouraging, general manager Erik Neander said, which factored into the decision to not add an outfielder.
Neander said they are hopeful Kiermaier will be ready to return after the minimum 10-day injured list stint (May 19) or slightly longer given there are no broken bones or ligament damage. But that will be determined by how Kiermaier feels.
“It is a bruise. It is a situation where it’s very day-to-day and just kind of have to wait to see how it responds, just to rest, to downtime,” Neander said. “There’s certainly a history of trauma to that area (from a 2016 injury) that could influence that.”
The Rays are counting on Randy Arozarena, Manuel Margot, Austin Meadows and Brett Phillips to handle the bulk of the work, with infielders Mike Brosseau and Brandon Lowe helping out.
Yankees coach tests positive for COVID-19
The Yankees were without third-base coach Phil Nevin, who tested positive for COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated, and other coaches. The team confirmed Nevin’s “breakthrough positive” result, and said other coaches and staff members were being tested and under contact tracing and not at Tropicana Field.
Manager Aaron Boone said no players were impacted by the potential outbreak. Cole, a union rep, said the players met and decided after consulting with league and union officials to go ahead with the game, which was slated for ESPN coverage. … Luke Voit was activated off the injured list and started at first. Aaron Hicks was scratched due to a right shin bruise sustained Sunday.
Lefty Ryan Sherriff was reinstated from the restricted list, taking Tsutsugo’s 40-man roster spot and optioned to Durham, where he had been assigned. ... Ryan Yarbrough, pushed back a day, is slated to handle the bulk of the innings Wednesday but will work behind an opener (Collin McHugh). ... Pitcher Michael Wacha threw well in a bullpen session and said after light fielding drills his tight right hamstring felt better. Depending how he feels Wednesday, he could rejoin the staff as soon as Thursday.
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