DETROIT — Having spent nearly six months recovering and rehabbing from a partially torn elbow ligament, reliever Nick Anderson was obviously and understandably thrilled to be activated by the Rays on Sunday.
“Super excited,” he said.
The Rays, in turn, were happy to have him back, eager to see if he regained the 2019-20 form that made him one of the game’s top high-leverage relievers, going 5-1, 1.43 with six saves in 37-2/3 innings over 42 games, striking out 67 of 136 batters.
“It’s been a long road, obviously, that he’s coming back with two-three weeks left to play,” manager Kevin Cash said. “But if we can get him anything close to what he’s been for us the last two seasons, we‘ve got a really, really special pitcher.”
Anderson looked increasingly familiar toward the end of his rehab assignment, Triple-A Durham manager Brady Williams telling Cash specifically there was better location and more swing-and-miss on Anderson’s fastball, as well as good velocity.
Anderson said he is ready for the opportunity.
“I’m sure there’s probably going to be a little bit of butterflies getting ready and getting back out there, but hopefully it’s just like riding a bike,” Anderson said. “I got nine-10 innings (at Triple-A Durham), so kind of got back in that groove and throwing again. So, yeah, looking forward to getting out there.”
Anderson had some fun rejoining the team during Thursday’s off day in Detroit, showing up unannounced at the hotel, where he was first seen by Kevin Kiermaier as he pulled up to the front door, and then by many teammates Friday when he rode the bus to the stadium.
“Nobody knew I was coming, so that kind of made it even a little a little better,” Anderson said. “I don’t like surprises, but I like surprising other people.”
Archer heads to injured list, future uncertain
Starter Chris Archer was placed on the 10-day injured list due to the recurring left hip discomfort that forced him out of Saturday’s game after four innings, and the Rays won’t have a good sense of when or if he will return until after a Tuesday appointment with team orthopedist Dr. Koco Eaton. Archer, who rejoined the Rays on a $6.5 million one-year deal, has left two of his four starts since returning to action after a long layoff from an April forearm injury due to the hip. He said it is an issue each time he pitches with the timing of the severity varying, making it a matter of tolerance. “We’ll have a little bit more clarity on it once Koco sees him and then we’ll go from there,” Cash said.
Enns to join rotation
With Archer joining Shane McClanahan on the injured list, the Rays will move Dietrich Enns into the rotation and have him start Thursday’s homestand opener against Detroit. Enns worked four no-hit, no-walk innings Saturday in what Cash called “a pretty awesome” performance to earn his first big-league win, throwing 59 pitches, and should be able to cover five innings Thursday. Other options included calling up Brent Honeywell or prospect Shane Baz. ... Enns was the 22nd Ray with a win this season, tying the Marlins and Giants for most in the majors and two off the team record set in 2018.
• Nelson Cruz hit his 12th homer since joining the Rays, 31st of the season and 448th of his career, one shy of matching Jeff Bagwell and Vladimir Guerrero for 40th place all-time.
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• Because of strict rules in Canada requiring a 10-day quarantine for a positive COVID-19 test, the Rays sent several players and staff home from Detroit rather than continuing on to Toronto. The group included players on the injured list, plus pitchers Luis Patino and Enns, who wouldn’t work in the series against the Jays, anyway.
• Outfielder Brett Phillips (right ankle sprain) also was activated from the injured list, and struggling reliever Shawn Armstrong was designated for assignment.
* Collin McHugh will be the multi-inning opener on Monday at Toronto, with lefty Ryan Yarbrough slated to work the bulk of the innings.
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