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Rays’ Tyler Glasnow on return: healthy, excited, thankful

Sixty weeks after having Tommy John elbow surgery, the hard-throwing right-hander is set to return to the mound.
Weather permitting, Rays starter Tyler Glasnow will make his major-league return Wednesday against the Guardians in Cleveland.
Weather permitting, Rays starter Tyler Glasnow will make his major-league return Wednesday against the Guardians in Cleveland. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Sep. 27|Updated Sep. 27

CLEVELAND — Tyler Glasnow has been low-keying his return to the majors this season, focusing on how he felt physically during each stage of his rehab from August 2021 Tommy John surgery rather than any milestone accomplishment in getting back.

But now that he is set to pitch for the Rays on Wednesday (weather permitting) — 421 days after surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) that had been deteriorating for years and the installation of a brace to keep it strong — he has acknowledged some satisfaction.

His arm feels good. He is “really excited” to return to the majors. He considers himself back on a normal, every fifth- (or sixth)-day starting routine. He is pleased with his stuff — velocity, shape, movement — and the execution of his pitches.

Also: “It’s good to have a UCL,” Glasnow said. “It keeps everything intact.”

Glasnow and his Rays bosses are, understandably, trying to tamp down expectations for the 29-year-old right-hander’s return.

From left, the Rays' Manuel Margot, David Peralta, head of mental performance Justin Su’a, Tyler Glasnow, Isaac Paredes and Christian Bethancourt watch a game against the Toronto Blue Jays Saturday at Tropicana Field.
From left, the Rays' Manuel Margot, David Peralta, head of mental performance Justin Su’a, Tyler Glasnow, Isaac Paredes and Christian Bethancourt watch a game against the Toronto Blue Jays Saturday at Tropicana Field. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

He will be used as a starter but closely watched and extremely limited, likely to two or maybe three innings and no more than 50 pitches. He could be too amped up, having not pitched in a major-league game since June 14, 2021, or get frustrated if things don’t go well initially. He will be challenged more by Guardians hitters than he was in four Triple-A rehab starts.

“Two innings of Glasnow is still a huge plus to our team,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ll see where we get. We’ll see how Cleveland goes, Wednesday goes. I think it’s fair we’re going to hover around that 45-pitch mark. Would like to get him three innings. If we do, great. If we don’t, that’s fine, too.”

Those who saw Glasnow throw at Durham — where he allowed one hit and four walks while striking out 14 of the 26 batters he faced and clocking up to 99 mph on his fastball — were quite impressed and confident he is ready to return and will do just fine.

Reliever Dusten Knight: “He is unhuman. His stuff is just, probably the most purest, nastiest stuff I’ve ever seen. … He looks like a guy who’s ready to go out and pitch the seventh game of the World Series.”

Infielder Miles Mastrobuoni: “It’s Glasnow doing Glasnow. … Incredible to play behind. Electric stuff. He’s gonna come back and impact this ballclub.”

Rehab pitching coach Rick Knapp: “I think that he’s ready for anything that we need him to do here. So 96-99 (mph) with the fastball, the breaking ball (that breaks) nose to toes, and this cutter-slider he’s developed is pretty unhittable. He’s been getting in the strike zone more and more with his fastball, which is always a plus. … I’ve been very pleased and pleasantly surprised.”

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There is also an intangible lift for the Rays in getting back one of their most impactful players as they close in on clinching a wild-card spot, knowing that if two planned regular-season starts go well he could be a weapon in the playoffs.

Said starter Shane McClanahan: “It’s Tyler Glasnow. The guy’s electric. Great teammate. Great leader. We can’t wait to get him back.”

Tyler Glasnow delivers during a game against the White Sox in Chicago on June 14, 2021, his last major-league outing.
Tyler Glasnow delivers during a game against the White Sox in Chicago on June 14, 2021, his last major-league outing. [ CHARLES REX ARBOGAST | AP ]

Starter Drew Rasmussen: “It’s the potential of adding a Cy Young candidate into our team and into the clubhouse on top of who he is as a person. … It would be huge to get him back. I mean, that’s the only way I can put it.”

Pitching coach Kyle Snyder: “It’s an emotional boost all the way around, but specifically for him. That’s a real journey to go through. He’s answered a lot of questions for himself, which is good, physically. To see him perform at the big-league level a couple of times before the potential of some postseason action, I think we’re all excited to see it.”

Glasnow, who last month signed an extension to stay with the Rays through 2024 (for a team-record-matching $25 million annual salary), said he has been pleased with all aspects of his recovery to this point and is ready for the next test.

“It feels normal, feels like I haven’t missed a bunch of time,” he said. “I’m just gonna approach it like any other start, just go out and compete and try to get my feel.

“I’m glad I’m up here now. Just to get some ‘feelers’ before, if we end up with playoffs and everything like that, just kind of get in that atmosphere again. And I think that’s just the only thing I’ve got to feel again. But I’m excited. I feel good.”

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