HOUSTON — The makeup of the Rays bullpen changed again a bit unexpectedly Tuesday, as lefty Adam Conley was placed on the COVID-19-related injured list after testing positive for the virus.
Conley is not experiencing symptoms but will be sidelined for 10 days under league protocols. While he could return to the Rays at some point during the postseason, it would be challenging for him to remain built up.
Andrew Kittredge, the Rays’ best high-leverage reliever this season, was activated from the injured list as expected after a 10-day pause to deal with neck tightness. He is 9-3, with a 1.55 ERA and seven saves working in 54 games.
“Huge to get Kitt back,” manager Kevin Cash said. “See if we can get him on some type of a routine heading into the (playoffs).”
On Monday, the Rays called up relievers Louis Head (for the 12th time this season) and lefty Ryan Sherriff to give them some depth for the final week and options to consider for the postseason roster.
They replaced reliever Nick Anderson, who was sidelined with a lower back strain but could benefit from some rest as he continues to work back from a spring elbow injury, and infielder Jordan Luplow, who was sent to Triple-A Durham to get some more work at first base.
Conley, 31, had been a surprising steady contributor since being called up from Triple-A in mid-August, posting a 2.29 ERA in 17 games, allowing five runs over 19-2/3 innings, striking out 16 and walking six.
The former Marlin signed with the Rays as a minor-league free agent in May after opting out of a deal to play in Japan due to coronavirus restrictions that would have kept his family from joining him.
He did well at Triple-A Durham, going 2-1 with three saves and a 4.35 ERA over 31-1/3 innings in 27 games, then took advantage of the opportunity the Rays gave him, making his first appearance in the majors since September 2019 with the Marlins.
Conley worked as a starter for the Marlins from 2015-17 but was used exclusively as a reliever in 2018-19, going 5-15, 5.42 in 112 games. He was with Miami in 2020 but didn’t pitch in the majors, sidelined part of the year by their COVID-19 outbreak.
With Conley out, the Rays have Sherriff and Josh Fleming as lefty reliever options for the postseason, with the potential to shift Ryan Yarbrough to the bullpen and/or call up Dietrich Enns from Durham.
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