ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays made a change to their pitching staff Friday with a surprising — and inspiring — twist, replacing Luis Patino with Kevin Herget, a 31-year-old who has spent 10 years in the minors.
Herget, who has been pitching well at Triple-A Durham, is expected to be a short-term addition to provide depth to a tired bullpen. He flew his parents in from New Jersey to see his hoped-for debut, though he did not pitch in Friday’s game against the Royals.
“It’s just surreal right now,’’ he said before the game. “It really is.’’
There also was news of a potentially bigger addition, as high-leverage reliever JP Feyereisen said he is over the shoulder issue that sidelined him in early June and is targeting a return this season, likely in mid-September.
“That’s the No. 1 goal,’’ Feyereisen said. “Chances? I don’t know what the odds are. I mean, hopefully, as long as it keeps going the way it is then, yeah, I would say we’re looking good. Just as long as everything else keeps going smooth.’’
Feyereisen was arguably the most effective reliever in the majors at the time of his injury, having pitched 24⅓ innings over 22 games without giving up an earned run and allowing only 12 of the 86 batters he faced to reach base.
His return seemed uncertain, if not unlikely, as recently as 10 days ago when he was shut down from throwing and underwent an MRI exam. But the results showed that the bone bruise and impingement in his shoulder had improved, and he was good to resume throwing. That was thanks in part, he said, to a trip home to Wisconsin to see some specialists who “moved some things around in my arm.’’
Feyereisen threw his first bullpen session Friday — 20 pitches, just fastballs and changeups — and said he felt good afterward.
Manager Kevin Cash said it would “be great” to get Feyereisen back but pointed out the reliever has “missed significant time” and has to progress through additional bullpen sessions, live batting practices and rehab games. “He’s a ways (away),’’ Cash said.
Rehab report: Margot set to return, pitchers close
Outfielder Manuel Margot is expected to be activated and in the lineup Saturday after spending 60 days on the injured list with a patellar tendon strain in his right knee. The Rays will have to make room on the 26- and 40-man rosters.
Among other injured pitchers, JT Chargois (oblique) appears closest to returning, as soon as Sunday. Matt Wisler (neck strain) is slated to throw a bullpen session Saturday and live batting practice Monday. Tyler Glasnow (Tommy John surgery) throws his first live batting practice Saturday.
On Friday, Nick Anderson (elbow surgery) completed a back-to-back assignment for Triple-A Durham, with the Rays having to decide whether to recall or option him to the minors by Monday. A similar decision is due by Tuesday on Brendan McKay (thoracic outlet syndrome surgery). Yonny Chirinos (Tommy John surgery) is likely to have his rehab at Durham extended.
The Rays dropped to 8-19 in extra innings, losing six of their past seven. ... Because Roman Quinn, who started the 10th inning as the runner on second base, was caught stealing, the Rays had only two batters in the 10th, with leftfielder MJ Melendez making a diving catch on Francisco Mejia’s liner to end the game. ... Randy Arozarena has 17 RBIs in his past 15 games.
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