CINCINNATI — Taj Bradley will get a chance sooner than expected to show the Rays what he can do for an encore.
The Rays’ top pitching prospect and one of the game’s best made an impressive big-league debut Wednesday against the Red Sox, filling in for injured starter Zach Eflin. The 22-year-old was sent back to Triple-A Durham after the game, but when Jeffrey Springs was hurt Thursday, the Rays started planning to bring Bradley back to face the Reds on Tuesday.
Though optioned pitchers are required to spend 15 days in the minors, there is an exception if they are replacing an injured teammate. Because Springs had not yet been placed on the injured list, Bradley’s recall unfolded slowly, as he rejoined the Rays Monday on the taxi squad and will be officially activated Tuesday. He wasn’t too concerned about the specifics.
“Just as long as I’m up here, I’m happy,” he said.
Bradley looked poised and powerful against Boston, allowing three runs, five hits and one walk while striking out eight. He reflected on it for a few days
“I dwelled on it for a little bit, a few days longer than I usually do, and then now, it’s like, on to the next,” he said.
Bradley will have some support as both of his parents are working to make the trip. And he’ll have the benefit of what he learned from his debut.
“My stuff, I can compete up here at this level and pretty much just do whatever got me here and just capitalize on it to make it that much better,” he said.
The Rays on Monday also called up Cooper Criswell to help cover innings as they deal with a rash of injuries. Criswell, who made one appearance for the Rays last year, worked four innings in the 8-1 loss, allowing four runs.
To make room on the 26-man active roster for Criswell, the Rays optioned reliever Trevor Kelley, who was called up Saturday and worked two innings. To make room on the 40-man roster, reliever Shawn Armstrong, sidelined since the start of camp with a neck issue, was transferred from the 15- to the 60-day injured list. He is not eligible to return until May 29, but hadn’t shown enough progress to indicate he would have been ready sooner.
Medical matters: Eflin, Franco, Siri, Glasnow, Springs
Eflin (back tightness) looked and felt great in a bullpen session at Tropicana Field on Monday, and Cash said if he has no setbacks they expect him to start Sunday when he is eligible to come off the injured list.
Wander Franco returned to shortstop after DH-ing on Sunday due to right shoulder irritation, but did have to make a late-afternoon visit to a dentist due to a painful tooth issue.
Centerfielder Jose Siri (right hamstring strain) took “a big step forward,” Cash said, by “basically running full speed straight ahead.” Assuming no soreness, he will next try some side-to-side movements, then baserunning, but also will need to get some at-bats in a minor-league or complex game so his return is not imminent.
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Tyler Glasnow (left oblique strain) continues throwing bullpen sessions and doing well, with a mid-May return projected.
Cash said there was still no update on Springs, who was seeking additional medical opinions on the left arm/elbow issue that forced him from Thursday’s game and will sideline him at least two months. “I’m like you, waiting to hear exactly what the plan will be moving forward. Just thinking about Jeff; I know it’s probably been a trying couple days.”
Josh Lowe’s ninth-inning blast extended the Rays’ streak of homering to all 17 games, the second-longest, season-starting streak behind the Mariners’ 20 in 2019. ... Double-A Montgomery pitchers Sean Hunley, Jeff Belge, Enmanuel Mejia, and Graham Spraker combined for a no-hitter Sunday against Tennessee (Cubs). ... Reliever Jason Adam continued having fun talking up Sunday’s game-ending, behind-the-back grab, which earned only the No. 5 spot on SportsCenter’s top 10 plays: “A bit disappointing. I think that’s obviously the top play of the day, but that’s all right. I’ll get over it.”
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