ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays considered several options to fill Friday’s open spot in their rotation, including promoting top prospect Shane Baz, before deciding to adjust from the group they had.
So Luis Patino, who was slated to start Saturday against the Tigers, will move up to Friday and pitch with the standard four days’ rest since his last outing, Sunday at Detroit.
Ryan Yarbrough, who at the least was going to be pushed back a couple days in the rotation after consecutive rough outings, will now pitch Saturday, either as the starter or behind an opener.
Rookie lefty Shane McClanahan, the Rays’ top starter, is over the stiff back that sidelined him last week and expected to come off the injured list to start Sunday.
How strongly Baz was considered is not clear. Speculation arose when word got out he was scratched from his scheduled Thursday start for Triple-A Durham, but it turned out there was a reason which made a promotion moot: He felt a slight back spasm Wednesday and is not likely return to action until Sunday.
Brent Honeywell might have been another option for a promotion from Triple-A, but he is away from the team following the recent death of his stepmother.
“We’ve kind of been piecing it together,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We considered just kind of a bullpen day. ... (Patino has) been very much controlled in his workload. Like to see Luis to go out there and let it go and see how far that gets us. But feel comfortable with him on five days, Yarbs coming back on five days, and then Shane off the IL.”
Wander Franco eyeing return next week
Rookie shortstop Wander Franco said the strained right hamstring that landed him on the injured list Saturday is pretty much healed — “There isn’t much that bothers me anymore” — and he hopes to return next week, as he is eligible Tuesday. Cash said the Rays are “thrilled” with his recovery, but that timetable would “be really fast” and thus unlikely. The Sept. 24-26 series against the Marlins may be more realistic. Franco has been running in a pool and in the outfield (though not yet on the bases, often the final test); Thursday, he hit flipped balls and off a tee in the cage. He may do more work on the field Friday.
Medical matters: Cody Reed sighting
Lefty reliever Cody Reed’s season seemed over when he underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgery June 2, but he has worked hard to get back to throwing and Thursday pitched an inning in a Florida Complex League game, striking out three. Cash lauded Reed’s work ethic and progress but said it was “too early” to know if Reed could make it back for the regular or postseason. “I know he’s champing at the bit,” Cash said. “We’re excited with what he’s doing. But he’s got a lot of boxes to check before we start considering that.” … Reliever Chris Mazza, who went on the COVID-19-related injured list Sept. 2 due to a close contact at Durham, also threw in the FCL game. … Cash said there were no updates on pitchers Chris Archer (additional opinions on his sore left hip) or Matt Wisler (no throwing due to middle finger inflammation).
• Because the Rays were on the road Wednesday, they are hosting a Roberto Clemente Day celebration on Friday. Award nominees Ryan Yarbrough and Nelson Cruz will be honored, and there is a $21 ticket special.
• Fans donating non-perishable items at Gate 1 or 4 for Friday’s Pack the Pantries Feeding Tampa Bay Food Drive get a voucher valid for two lower reserved tickets to a 2022 home game (with some restrictions). … The same offer applies to anyone gets a free COVID-19 vaccine (12 and older) Friday from the Metro Inclusive Health mobile unit parked outside Gate 4, plus a $25 gift card.
• Attendance was 10,206 Thursday, the first day of the homestand-long $10 ticket and reduced concession specials.
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