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Rays add bullpen depth in reacquiring Javy Guerra from Brewers

Notebook | The move comes a day after Pete Fairbanks had to leave the game due to a recurrence of blood-flow issues to his fingers.
 
Right-hander Javy Guerra returns to the Rays thanks to a trade with the Brewers.
Right-hander Javy Guerra returns to the Rays thanks to a trade with the Brewers. [ MORRY GASH | AP ]
Published April 29, 2023|Updated April 30, 2023

CHICAGO — The Rays made a small trade with Milwaukee on Saturday to add experienced bullpen depth in bringing back right-hander Javy Guerra.

The Rays acquired Guerra, 27, in April 2022 from San Diego, and he did well for them between the majors (2-1, 3.38 in 17 games) and Triple A (2-0, 1.74 in 43 games, earning organizational top reliever honors). They traded him to clear roster space in November to the Brewers, for whom he didn’t do so well (8.64 ERA in eight games) and was designated for assignment Monday. He is likely to join the Rays on Sunday.

“We liked Javy,” manager Kevin Cash said. “I thought he got better and improved last year with us. I know what his numbers are right now, early in the season. (I’m) not going to put too much weight on that. ...

“I think more than anything Javy found some confidence with us, even in the minor leagues, and he came up and did good things. So excited to have him back.”

To make room on the 40-man roster for Guerra, who is out of options, the Rays designated for assignment reliever Braden Bristo, a 28-year-old who made his big-league debut April 13. Someone also will have to be dropped from the 26-man active roster, with Saturday opener Calvin Faucher a possibility.

In trading Guerra, the Rays got a player to be named, who was minor-league pitcher Victor Castaneda. In getting Guerra back, the Rays will give up either a player to be named or cash.

Guerra, a native of Panama, played shortstop coming up and debuted in the majors with San Diego as a position player in May 2018, then converted to pitching during spring training in 2019.

Fairbanks seeking solutions

After being forced from Friday’s game, top reliever Pete Fairbanks said he is continuing to explore options to be able to pitch with symptoms from Raynaud’s syndrome, which in colder weather constricts blood flow to his fingers and limits feeling.

Fairbanks has experimented with different methods to combat the cold, including having a Major League Baseball-approved hand warmer in his back pocket and, per Cash, using medication.

“There’s things I’m trying, but there’s not a fix,” Fairbanks said Saturday.

Cash said Fairbanks would be available in the bullpen for the final two game in Chicago, and they would check on him as he starts throwing.

Also Saturday:

• Infielder Yandy Diaz wasn’t in the lineup due to a scheduled day off after leaving Friday’s game when he irritated his occasionally sore left shoulder sliding into home. But Cash said he was feeling fine and available to play, and he did, pinch-hitting in the 10-run seventh inning, drawing a walk, and finishing the game playing first base.

• Starter Tyler Glasnow looked and felt good throwing 35 pitches over two innings of live batting practice Saturday at Tropicana Field, Cash said, and will advance next to a three-inning rehab appearance with Triple-A Durham, likely on Friday. If he makes three starts for the Bulls and all goes well, he would be on target to rejoin the Rays in mid- to late May.

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Armed and ready

Rays outfielder Luke Raley took a turn on the mound in relief during the ninth inning of the 14-5 win over the White Sox on Thursday.
Rays outfielder Luke Raley took a turn on the mound in relief during the ninth inning of the 14-5 win over the White Sox on Thursday. [ CHARLES REX ARBOGAST | AP ]

Luke Raley was uncomfortable at the time, but said he later was able to enjoy his pitching performance in the ninth inning of Thursday’s blowout win.

Especially when his older brother Brad, a former Lake Erie College pitcher, called after the game and analyzed each of 14 pitches he threw in the ninth inning, most in the 57-mph range, breaking 60 mph once. Raley allowed two runs on three hits and didn’t walk or strike out anyone.

“He was critiquing me a little bit, and it was pretty fun. He got a good kick out of it,” Raley said. “He was just laughing and saying, ‘Boy, I thought you had more in the tank than that.’ So he was having a good time with me.”

Raley hadn’t pitched since Highland High, and said he wasn’t very good then. He did say he has a pretty good knuckleball that he may break out if he gets another opportunity to get on the mound.

Feeling good

Ryan Thompson rejoined the Rays bullpen on Friday and worked a scoreless inning, saying before the game he feels better than ever.

The side-arming, right-handed reliever said the 15 days on the injured list for a lat strain allowed him to work extensively with new rehab coordinator/physical therapist Brad Epstein on resetting his body with encouraging results.

“He helped me get to where I am right now,” Thompson said. “I’m going to continue the progress I made throughout the year. And I feel as good as I’ve felt in years, I’d say.”

Miscellany

Rookie Rule 5 reliever Kevin Kelly got the ball and the obligatory beer shower Friday for recording his first big-league save, throwing two pitches to get the final out after Fairbanks left. “Definitely not how I expected it to go,” he said. ... First-pitch temperature was 56 after a rainy afternoon in Chicago. ... Per fangraphs.com, the Rays went into play Saturday with a 95.3 percent chance to make the playoffs, up from 61.3 percent on opening day.

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