OAKLAND, Calif. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks rejoined the Rays on Wednesday and strolled through the team’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum showing few lasting effects from the hip injury that landed him on the 15-day injured list May 28.
Fairbanks had a new look, as well. The 29-year-old right-hander had a red/purple welt under his right eye, the result of an incident between Fairbanks and his 3-year-old son while playing basketball in the family’s swimming pool.
With a grin, Fairbanks told the tale of how he dunked on his son before the backboard came crashing down, the top of it hitting the pitcher in his face.
To Fairbanks, it was a fair play that was for a purpose.
“Teach him an early lesson in life: when you’re in the paint, you cannot be caught unaware underneath the basket,” Fairbanks explained. “Did that end up with me with a black eye? Yes. So it was fun. My wife has been making fun of me about it, as has pretty much everybody here. So it’s been a good past five days or whatever.”
Fairbanks accepts the good-natured kidding because, well, he scored.
“The ball went through the hoop,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s two points.”
Fairbanks missed 16 games while injured and remains on the IL, though that could change soon. Manager Kevin Cash noted that it’s possible Fairbanks could be activated as soon as Thursday.
“I think he’s very, very close,” Cash said. “He’s going to have a full catch day today and then we’ll be probably looking to activate him in the near future.”
Fairbanks made two outings in the minor leagues during a rehab assignment and felt fine. The short-term prognosis is that he’ll be back in the Rays bullpen soon, while the long-term plans look good. Fairbanks doesn’t expect it to be a lingering issue.
“If this is a problem in the future it’s going to lead down a road that I really don’t want to go down,” Fairbanks said. “Right now, it seems to be taken care of. The strengthening that we’ve been doing and kind of treating the joint and surrounding stuff in the back and sacrum is taken care of. Hopefully it’s a non-issue moving forward.”
He said that in some ways, the injury hurt less than the treatment.
“I felt like I was more sore from them shooting some big needles in my hip,” Fairbanks said. “Once (the injury) had calmed down over those first couple days it felt OK, and then they shot me full of needles. Once that went away, it’s been feeling pretty good since then.”
Doctors and the Rays will continue to monitor his health, making sure he’s fully ready to go when cleared.
“Everything’s under maintenance,” Fairbanks said. “It’s like the Florida road system. There’s always construction.”
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The Rays made a few transactions before Wednesday’s game against the A’s, reinstating right-handed reliever Zack Littell off the injured list following a rehab stint. Left-hander Jalen Beeks, who pitched two innings as an opener in Tuesday’s game against the A’s, was optioned down to Triple-A Durham.
“Good for Zack to get back up here,” Cash said. “Kind of recovered from that little shoulder issue that he had, seems to be healthy. As far as Jalen, that was a tough one. Certainly tough for me, (pitching coach Kyle Snyder), for all of us because he’s been such a big part of our bullpen here for, it feels like many years.
“Things were not coming easy for (Beeks). This gives him a chance to kind of reset a little bit. I know there’s some messaging that he’s going to take down to Triple A, and the thought is to get him cleaned up, get the velocity to where it is, get the stuff back to where it is, the strike throwing and get him back up here.”
Bradley looks more aggressive
Taj Bradley starts the series finale Thursday afternoon and is trying to bounce back from his worst outing of the season. The right-hander allowed five runs (four earned) in 3 2/3 innings, his shortest of the season, on Saturday.
Bradley had a season-high four walks in that game against the Rangers when he was admittedly trying to get Texas hitters to chase his pitches rather than attacking in the zone.
“I didn’t challenge in the zone like I should have,” said Bradley, who is 4-3 with a 4.19 ERA. “I remedied that, just throw strikes in the zone. That’s it, keep it simple. People are going to hit it, you can’t control that. But I can control in-the-zone strikes.”
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