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Rays’ Jeffrey Springs hopes to return this season after freak knee injury

Rays notes | The team’s top lefty reliever sustained “a pretty significant sprain.” Just-acquired DJ Johnson is called up.
Rays reliever Jeffrey Springs goes down with an injured knee during the seventh inning against the Red Sox on Saturday.
Rays reliever Jeffrey Springs goes down with an injured knee during the seventh inning against the Red Sox on Saturday. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Aug. 2

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays lefty Jeffrey Springs was relieved the right-knee injury he sustained Saturday was not more severe but was disappointed he will be out at least several weeks, with a hope to return before the season ends.

Springs was diagnosed with what manager Kevin Cash called “a pretty significant sprain” under somewhat freak circumstances, chasing a bunt that was rolling toward third in the seventh inning against the Red Sox. The Rays will keep him off his feet for 10-14 days and re-evaluate.

“I’m glad it wasn’t worse than what it is,’’ Springs said. “Obviously, always worst-case scenario kind of goes through your head at first. But they’re pretty confident that it can get taken care of, hopefully, in two, three, four weeks, whatever, and try to get back and help us win and go into the playoffs.’’

Springs, 28, has been the team’s top lefty and one of their key relievers overall, going 5-1, 3.43 in a team-high 43 games. “A big piece to our bullpen,’ Cash said.

DJ Johnson was excited to be traded back to the Rays, the team he first signed with in 2010.
DJ Johnson was excited to be traded back to the Rays, the team he first signed with in 2010. [ MARC TOPKIN | Times ]

Right-hander DJ Johnson, acquired Friday from Cleveland and assigned to Triple A, was called up. The Rays plan to have Ryan Sherriff, their other lefty reliever, handle the bulk of the work against lefty hitters, along with a couple of right-handed relievers who do well.

Johnson, 31, was thrilled to get back to the majors, having made just one appearance this season (after spending 2020 in Japan).

And to return to the Rays, with whom he signed for “$1,000 and a plane ticket” as an undrafted free agent to start his pro career in 2010. He was released after one season with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League team.

“It feels awesome,’’ he said, “I mean, 10 years ago, this is where I dreamed of playing. This is the team that I wanted to play for. Baseball has a funny way of working things out. And for this to come full circle like this, it’s unbelievable. To join this team and the race that they’re in right now, I couldn’t be happier.’’

With a team-record 15 players — all pitchers, 12 being relievers — on the injured list, the Rays didn’t have a lot of choices, as the only other healthy pitcher on the 40-man roster is Brent Honeywell, who is currently being used as a starter.

Medical matters: Archer, McHugh, Feyereisen

The Rays were hoping Chris Archer would throw five innings/75 pitches Sunday for Triple-A Durham in his fifth, and perhaps penultimate, rehab outing, but the right-hander was removed from the game after one inning (31 pitches, three runs) due to left-hip soreness. The team said Archer, out since April with a forearm issues, couldn’t get his footing on the mound, so the move was precautionary. … Reliever Collin McHugh, out since July 22, said he felt great after throwing 21 pitches in his first bullpen session and, even better, “felt normal, which is what we’re looking for.’’ The right-hander said there was no set timetable to be activated, but he plans to accompany the team on the road trip that starts Friday in Baltimore. … J.P. Feyereisen, out since July 21 with right-shoulder discomfort, has started playing catch.

Miscellany

• The Rays logged their eighth sweep of a three-or-more-game series, tied for most in the majors.

• Prospect Shane Baz is starting for the U.S. Olympic team in Monday’s quarterfinal game (6 a.m. Tampa Bay time; NBC Sports Network) against host Japan and longtime big-leaguer Masahiro Tanaka.

• The Rays improved to 4-6 on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, making their first appearance since July 2014, and first at home since July 2011. Outfielder Brett Phillips, coming out of his shell, was miked up for the broadcast.

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