Josh Fleming to injured list as Rays continue to scramble for pitching

Notes | The left-hander is the third member of the opening-day rotation to go on the IL.
Rays relief pitcher Josh Fleming is headed to the injured list after an MRI revealed he has a cartilage build-up on the bone, and inflammation.
Rays relief pitcher Josh Fleming is headed to the injured list after an MRI revealed he has a cartilage build-up on the bone, and inflammation. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published June 6|Updated June 7

ST. PETERSBURG — As expected, Josh Fleming was placed on the injured list before Tuesday night’s series opener against the Twins. The Rays left-hander had been scratched over the weekend and sent for an MRI because of elbow soreness.

The initial reads of the MRI are that he has a cartilage build-up on the bone, and inflammation.

Fleming, who had a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in college, had a cortisone shot on Tuesday morning and said that the images have been sent to specialists for a second opinion.

While that seems encouraging, Fleming is shut down for at least two weeks, and the Rays are left to scramble to fill holes in their rotation.

Three pitchers in their opening-day rotation have fallen to injuries already. Jeffrey Springs is out for the season after elbow reconstruction surgery, and Drew Rasmussen is out for an extended period dealing with a right flexor-tendon strain.

The Rays will have reliever Shawn Armstrong open on Wednesday. Cooper Criswell was recalled from Triple-A to pitch the bulk role that Fleming was scheduled for Wednesday night.

Yonny Chirinos, who has made seven appearances with the Rays this season, could very likely be here to pitch in Thursday’s series finale. The Rays are at the beginning of 18 straight games before their next day off, so they will have to live with back-to-back days of openers and “bulk guys” like Criswell and Chirinos until they can get help.

“That’s not how we would draw it up but I think with some of the injuries that have kind of taken place here, it’s just the way it’s worked,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said prior to Tuesday night’s 7-0 victory against the Twins, when starter Zach Eflin provided 6⅔ scoreless innings.

“And it just puts not more pressure, but a heavy importance on the front end — the bookings of those two days of our starters to do everything they can to go deep in the ballgame.”

Fleming said there was some relief when he saw the MRI images.

“I went to see Koco (team orthopedist Koco Eaton) and there was some cartilage built up that could potentially flake which would cause the….bone loose bodies,” Fleming said Tuesday afternoon. “And so that’s probably one of the reasons I’m feeling that pain kind of back of the tricep elbow area. So the cortisone I think is in hopes to kind of heal that and hopefully it won’t flake off and turn into anything.”

Fleming had initially been in the rotation as a placeholder for Tyler Glasnow, but the Rays found him more effective coming in after an opener. He has made 11 appearances, including three starts this season, with a 4.62 ERA. Criswell has a 6.11 ERA over 17⅔ innings with 18 strikeouts. Chirinos has made seven appearances in the big leagues this season, posting a 2.79 ERA.


Colby White, one of the Rays’ top relief-pitching prospects, pitched Tuesday in his first game since having Tommy John surgery in April 2022. The right-hander walked two in one inning of work against the Twins in the Florida Complex League. … The Rays traded right-handed pitcher Ben Heller to the Atlanta Braves Tuesday afternoon in exchange for international signing bonus pool money.

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Staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.

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