Drew Rasmussen has been waiting a long time to the pitch for the Rays.
They drafted him in the first round in 2017 out of Oregon State, but didn’t sign him, or even make an offer, because he needed a second Tommy John surgery.
They acquired Rasmussen from the Brewers last month in the deal for shortstop Willy Adames, but sent him to Triple-A Durham for a month.
Saturday, the 25-year-old finally got the opportunity, called up to add a fresh and powerful arm to the Rays’ bullpen, and making an impressive debut, striking out four of the five hitters he faced.
“It’s just a funny game and how life works,” Rasmussen said. “It was a weird way to circle back almost to where I belong. But it all worked out and we’re here now.”
Even better, he joined the team in Seattle, close enough to where he and wife, Stevie, grew up, went to college and live that they were having an impromptu family and friends reunion at T-Mobile Park.
Rasmussen arranged for 30 tickets, and plenty of others texted to say they would be there. “Things are going really well right now,” he said.
Rasmussen, who made his debut in 2020, had been with the Brewers all season, but said he “completely understood” why he was sent to Durham, in part to get acclimated to the Rays and their pitching philosophy. (J.P. Feyereisen, the other reliever acquired in the trade, came straight to the Rays.)
Then Rasmussen showed them why he shouldn’t be at Durham, throwing 11 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out 23 (of 42 batters), adjusting to the Rays’ messaging just fine.
“The confidence that they instill in pitchers and the ability to go out and get every hitter out is second to none,” Rasmussen said. “They love me throwing my (high 90-mph) fastball at the top (of the strike zone) and throwing my slider down off that. And I’ll mix in my changeup when needed, but it is definitely option No. 3.”
Rasmussen can handle short stints on back-to-back days or a multi-inning assignment. “He should be a nice addition to what we would already consider a pretty good bullpen, a really good bullpen,” manger Kevin Cash said.
Lowe out, Wendle at second
Second baseman Brandon Lowe was not in Saturday’s lineup against Seattle right-hander Logan Gilbert. Cash said it was just a day off to “let him relax a little bit” and that Lowe would start Sunday against Marco Gonzales, a lefty with neutral splits. Cash also said Lowe would be available off the bench if needed for a big at-bat Saturday. He delivered that with a two-out, pinch-hit, game tying homer in the ninth.
With Lowe out and Mike Brosseau sent down Friday, Joey Wendle made his first appearance of the season at second, having split time between shortstop and third base. Wendle may get more time at second as the Rays have only five infielders, and Ji-Man Choi is limited to first base.
⋅ Paul Kirsch, who scouted the Pacific Northwest for the Rays since their inception and signed 11 big-leaguers, was a pre-game guest on the field.
⋅ Brosseau will stay with the Rays as a member of the taxi squad and fly back with them after Sunday’s game, then join Durham when it opens a series Tuesday in Jacksonville.
⋅ Friday’s 5-1 loss was the Rays’ largest margin since April 30, a run of 43 games in which they either won or lost by three or fewer, the longest such streak since Toronto did 50 in 2015.
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