ST. PETERSBURG — Tyler Glasnow didn’t expect to have any trouble sleeping Friday night. It’s part of the regular routine the Rays’ right-hander has missed.
Glasnow will make his long-awaited 2023 debut Saturday against the Dodgers after starting the season on the injured list with an oblique strain.
“I’m not really too crazy the day before. Like, I sleep fine,” Glasnow said. “I’ve never had an issue with that. I’ll just go to sleep. I’m gonna wake up and do my whole thing (Saturday).”
The 29-year-old could be forgiven for being a little nervous, though. He will be making only his third major-league start since June 14, 2021 because of injuries.
“It’s been a while. I think getting a taste of it last year and then not being able to start this year kind of sucked,” Glasnow said Friday at Tropicana Field. “Then, doing the whole Triple A thing and stuff, but like (then I was) starting to feel good and get into a rhythm, and now that I’m here it feels amazing.”
In five seasons with the Rays, Glasnow has shown incredible potential.
He is 17-9 with a 3.05 ERA and 364 strikeouts in 268-1/3 innings. Before he went down with the elbow injury that led to Tommy John surgery in 2021, he was one of the top strikeout pitchers in the league with 123 in 88 innings pitched. That ranked him among the top 3 percent of major-league pitchers.
“I’m very excited for us and certainly for him,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s champing at the bit, for sure. And we know if he’s healthy we’re getting one of the game’s better pitchers to be able to insert into our rotation, so it’s gotta be a huge help.”
Glasnow’s effectiveness has been blunted by injuries, as he has made just 50 starts over his five seasons with the Rays.
He battled back from Tommy John surgery to make two regular-season starts at the end of 2022. He also started in the division series against the Guardians. But he strained the oblique muscle early in spring training and has been sidelined since.
“With (Tommy John), at least I was like , ‘All right, I can like accept the fact that I have it and I game-plan, like, throughout this however-many-months process,’” he said. “I think this one was a little bit more frustrating, just because I’d already done that and then came back and I felt so good in spring.
“And then, frustration-wise, it was kind of rough. But I think if I could go through that for 13 months, it was like ..... I think once I started feeling healthy after the oblique, I knew it was just a matter of time.”
Glasnow on Saturday will face Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw in a rematch of Game 1 and Game 5 of the 2020 World Series.
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“It was awesome. I was talking about it the other day, actually,” Glasnow said. " It’s was such an awesome experience I’ll never forget, obviously. But (Saturday) is kind of just go out there and treat it like any other game and, obviously do the game-planning necessary, but just like any other start.”
After bouncing the ball halfway to home, Jake McGee joked that he should have practiced before throwing the ceremonial first pitch Friday, his first time on the mound since his final big-league game on Sept. 8. McGee, 36, played for six teams but wanted to retire as a Ray, where he started and spent the most time.
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