ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays were hoping that being back in the controlled 72-degree atmosphere of Tropicana Field for a week would allow them to have Pete Fairbanks back in his closer’s role, but with Tuesday’s game on the line he was not available.
Fairbanks was forced to leave Friday’s game in chilly Chicago and sidelined for the rest of the weekend due to a recurrence of symptoms of Raynaud’s syndrome, which impacts blood flow to the fingers and thus his feel and grip on the ball when in cold weather.
Both he and manager Kevin Cash expressed optimism, but not certainty, before Tuesday’s game that the hard-throwing right-hander should be good to go.
“We’ll see. I haven’t had any issues in the Trop, so that’s all I’ve got for you,” Fairbanks said. “We’ve messed with my concoction of medications. I have some things to work on and have some things that I feel are effective on it. So we’ll see where it is.”
But with Javy Guerra having an ineffective opener turn (getting out two of four batters), and Josh Fleming being forced out of the game after 3⅓ innings as a result of being struck on the left foot by a batted ball, the Rays had to run through five more relievers in a tight game.
Fairbanks was not among them. Jason Adam worked the ninth for his first save.
Fairbanks said he “didn’t have any reservations” about throwing Friday night in Chicago, where the game-time temperature was 56 degrees but dropped into the 40s. But “being the first real game in the cold, there were some unforeseen things I dealt with in that outing.” The issue first surfaced during the 2022 playoffs in chilly Cleveland.
The Rays could have to make several moves Wednesday to bolster their pitching staff based on Fairbanks’ status, and if further imaging shows Fleming will be sidelined. “We’re going to talk through it,” Cash said.
The Rays head back out next for a trip next week to Baltimore and New York, where forecast temperatures look to be relatively mild, with highs in the low-70s and lows in the high-50s.
Fairbanks said he would like to think he would be good to go no matter what.
“My mind is that even if we are in colder weather, I have adjusted the things that I’m doing to take care of it and I should hopefully have a handle on it,” he said. “It’s a constant adjustment, with different things to do for this.”
Cash also is banking that “it is a little bit of unique circumstances.”
“I’m hoping by the time we start getting into cold weather again — which hopefully it’s gone now — and then September, whatever, we’ll have some sort of remedy for it,” he said.
Infielder Yandy Diaz, who left Friday’s game with a sore left shoulder and made only a late-inning appearance Saturday, was back in the lineup Tuesday, going 0-for-1 with three walks. “It still bothers me a little bit, but I feel a lot better,” Diaz said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. Diaz added the issue is similar to what he had at the end of 2022, but expects to be able to keep playing with treatment and massage therapy. … Starter Tyler Glasnow (oblique strain) on Friday is slated to make the first of likely three rehab starts with Triple-A Durham, working three innings. … Reliever Shawn Armstrong, out since spring training with neck tightness, threw a two-inning bullpen session Tuesday.
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Ji-Man Choi, on the Pirates’ injured list with an Achilles strain, was quick to meet up with his former teammates. Choi walked into the Rays clubhouse before batting practice, asked loudly “Where’s my locker?” then poked his head into Cash’s office (which was empty at the time) and headed familiarly to the back, where the food and trainers’ rooms are. Cash said it will “be exciting” to see Choi, but joked, “I’m glad he didn’t find me.” After the second inning Tuesday, the Rays showed a video of Choi highlights; the crowd responded with a nice ovation and Choi came out of the dugout to wave his cap.
Though catcher Christian Bethancourt didn’t hold on to the ball, the Rays challenged the fifth-inning play claiming Ke’Bryan Hayes didn’t touch home, but it was denied. ... With large crowds expected (and the upper deck open) for the Friday and Saturday games against the Yankees, the Rays are suggesting fans arrive early; gates open two hours before first pitch and parking lots four hours.
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