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A Ray of hope? Injured ace Tyler Glasnow is playing catch

Rays notes | It’s a small first step, but one manager Kevin Cash says they are all “thrilled” with.
The Rays' Tyler Glasnow delivers a pitch against the Rangers on April 12 at the Trop.
The Rays' Tyler Glasnow delivers a pitch against the Rangers on April 12 at the Trop. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Jul. 16, 2021|Updated Jul. 16, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG — The immediate focus for the Rays is on resuming play this weekend in Atlanta, with the looming July 30 trade deadline like something in the side mirror that is closer than it appears.

But there was good news on the longer-range front Thursday, as manager Kevin Cash said top starter Tyler Glasnow, sidelined since mid-June with an elbow injury, had taken the first step toward a hoped-for September return.

“He is lightly playing catch,’' Cash said of the right-hander. “For me, that’s a really good sign. If we’re signing off that he can get a ball and get going — ‘Let’s see how it feels’ — we should be thrilled with that.’’

Obviously playing catch and pitching meaningful late-season games is a big difference. But Glasnow’s return to some action fits in with the initial timeline — after the diagnosis of the partial ulnar collateral ligament tear and flexor strain — that he go four weeks without throwing and then be reevaluated.

Cash also shared encouraging news on high-leverage reliever Nick Anderson, who has been out all season with an elbow sprain with hopes of an August return. The right-hander is scheduled to throw to hitters on Friday in Port Charlotte, typically the last step before starting a rehab assignment.

Rays outfielder Manuel Margot wears a “Wanderboy” shirt at an optional workout Thursday at the Trop.
Rays outfielder Manuel Margot wears a “Wanderboy” shirt at an optional workout Thursday at the Trop. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]

Among other injured Rays:

• Right-hander Chris Archer, out since early April with an elbow issue, felt good after his first rehab outing for the Florida Complex League Team and will move up to Triple-A Durham for his next outing Saturday.

• Reliever Ryan Thompson, out since June 28 with right-shoulder inflammation, will throw a bullpen session either Friday or Saturday but likely will need some time on a rehab assignment at Durham.

• Reliever Oliver Drake, out all season with a flexor strain, had what Cash said they hope is “a minor setback” due to a neck/back issue that delayed the planned start of his rehab assignment.

• Outfielder Manuel Margot (left hamstring) and infielder Mike Brosseau (right oblique) hit off a tee Thursday and did some work on the field.

Homecoming for Austin Meadows

The Rays' Austin Meadows speaks to the media during Thursday's workout.
The Rays' Austin Meadows speaks to the media during Thursday's workout. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]
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The weekend series against the Braves will be extra special for Rays outfielder Austin Meadows, who grew up and was a high school star in the Atlanta area but will be playing there for the first time as a big-leaguer. “Got a lot of family going there,’' he said. “My wife’s handling the ticket situation, thank God. But it’ll be fun to get out there and play in front of family and friends.’'

Miscellany

• Cash, who managed the American League squad, said the All-Star Game experience in Denver was a great one for him and all the Rays: players Mike Zunino, Joey Wendle and Andrew Kittredge; the coaches and staff; and all their families.

• Nearly 20 players worked out to some degree during Thursday’s optional session at Tropicana Field.

• Cash said the only key to setting up the post-break rotation was pushing rookie lefty Shane McClanahan, who has thrown 60 innings over 13 starts, to the back end so he gets some extra rest, with a Tuesday start planned. They did want some flexibility for the games in Atlanta, given the DH-less National League rules, and seem to have that by starting Michael Wacha on Friday, using Josh Fleming likely behind an opener on Saturday and starting Rich Hill on Sunday.

• Much-traveled catcher Deivy Grullon was traded off the Rays’ Triple-A Durham roster to the White Sox for cash considerations.

• The Rays resumed their popular Salute to Service program, offering free tickets to some home games and discounts to others for teachers, first responders, military members and veterans. See raysbaseball.com for details.

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