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Son healthy and home, Rays’ Jeffrey Springs returns to the mound

Notes | The lefty pitched into the fifth inning, allowing eight hits but only two runs, in his first game since July 5.
Rays starting pitcher Jeffrey Springs throws against the Royals in the first inning of Sunday's game in Kansas City, Mo.
Rays starting pitcher Jeffrey Springs throws against the Royals in the first inning of Sunday's game in Kansas City, Mo. [ ED ZURGA | AP ]
Published Jul. 25

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After what Jeffrey Springs has been through the past three weeks, getting hit around a bit by the Royals and allowing a couple of runs before being knocked out in the fifth inning was still a pretty good day.

Springs was activated off the injured list to rejoin the Rays Sunday, but much more of an issue than the right calf tightness that sidelined him was the medical issue his 5 ½-month-old son, Stetson, was going through.

After spending three weeks in a St. Petersburg hospital as doctors identified and treated an infection in his spinal fluid, Stetson was allowed to go home Friday and given a clean bill of health.

“We’ve just got to keep him on medicine,” Springs said, “but he’s healthy, he’s 100 percent and it’s all good moving forward.”

That was obviously a relief for Jeffrey and his wife, Bailey, who had spent the last three weeks at the hospital nearly around the clock, sleeping when they could on air mattresses and a pull-out couch.

“It was a long time in the hospital,” Springs said. “Very mentally draining. Physically, it is what it is there. But the main thing is (Stetson) was able to come home.”

Springs pitched once for the Rays while his son was hospitalized, flying to Boston for a July 5 game then heading straight back, among several accommodations he thanked the Rays for making.

Once the calf became an issue, he would dash to Tropicana Field when he could to get treatment and to keep his arm in shape, and he went to Port Charlotte to throw a three-inning simulated game.

Understandably, he felt he had trouble getting in a rhythm Sunday and didn’t work ahead enough. But, given that he had runners in scoring position in each inning, he did well to limit the Royals to two runs.

“It’s always a testament to his character, and he found a way to get his work in essentially living at the hospital for the last 20-something days,” reliever Brooks Raley said. “So props to him for going out there, competing, giving us a chance to win.”

Patino sent down

The Rays need starting pitching help, and Luis Patino has the tools to be a good one, but not right now.

The Rays decided Saturday to send Patino, 22, to Triple-A Durham following a second straight ineffective start following a three-month injury absence due to an oblique strain and blister. The move opened the spot for Springs to be activated.

“I think there’s still work to be done,” manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s really young, he’s never dealt with an injury. … So he’s kind of had a lot on his plate. I think the Durham setting will allow him to get into a routine and then hopefully build to get back here. We know he’s a guy that can help us, and we’re incredibly optimistic about his future this year and moving forward.”

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The Rays now need a starter or bulk-inning pitcher for Thursday, with Ryan Yarbrough seemingly the likely candidate.

Miscellany

Yandy Diaz’s solo homer was his first since May 14 (with 56-plus games and 193 at-bats in between) and fourth of the season. He reached base for the 22nd consecutive start. His homer was the Rays’ first after 22 innings without one. … Top pitching prospect Taj Bradley had an impressive first Durham outing after a promotion from Double-A, striking out eight over five scoreless innings. … There was no official update on infield prospect Curtis Mead, who left Durham’s game Saturday with a right elbow issue. … The Rays are 8-6 in rubber games of series. ... First pitch temperatures for the Kansas City games were 95, 99 and 91 degrees; Monday’s forecast high in Baltimore is 92, with rain expected. … Ji-Man Choi didn’t start Sunday against lefty Kris Bubic; Cash said it was just a day off and Choi’s occasionally troublesome right elbow was “totally fine” after playing first base on Saturday.

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