NS. PETERSBURG – Manager Kevin Cash called Emergency Services DJ Johnson Saturday morning to welcome him to the organization after Friday’s deal from Cleveland and to discuss the Rays’ initial decision to send him to Triple-A Durham.
“I said, ‘Believe me, the way things are going, see you soon,'” Cash said on Sunday afternoon. “I saw him soon. Just saw him. “
Johnson was called in to replace the last injured Rays pitcher when left-handed Jeffrey Springs sprained his right knee while chasing a Bunt in Saturday’s game.
Even though Springs’ injury was something of a freak event, it ended up being 15th (And that doesn’t count Brendan McKay, who is available for the minors as he’s rehabilitating shoulder surgery starting in 2020.)
Of the other 14, 11 dropped out with arm problems, eight of which have existed since spring training.
The fact that the Rays came into the game on Monday with the best ERA (3.52) and Bullpen ERA (3.03) in the American League was a salute to the depth they have accumulated and earned to overcome the injuries.
“It’s like, ‘Next guy, right?'” Said Collin McHugh, one of the injured. “The front office has done a great job all year round to get people who can come and help right away.”
Think of it this way: of the 13 pitchers active for Monday’s game, only four – Andrew Kittredge, Ryan Sherriff, Michael Wacha and Ryan Yarbrough – were on the Rays opening day list.
Or so: Of the eight pitchers in Bullpen Monday only Sherriff was even on the Rays’ 40-man squad when spring training started.
Pitching coach Kyle Snyder admits he has had a few sleepless nights this season with a pile of arm injuries.
But success is no relief from the pain of seeing so many pitchers drop as five other previous injured list stints are serving. The overall group includes their top high leverage reliever, Nick Anderson (who they hope will return later in the season) and top starter Tyler Glasnow (who is expected to have surgery from Tommy John soon that will take him likely to be incapacitated by 2023). ).
“Injuries man, I’m more than frustrated,” said pitching coach Kyle Snyder. “If you invest as much as we do in each of these guys, 12 hours a day, all the off-season and so on. If they get injured and can’t perform anymore, that will always have a pretty dramatic impact on me.”
The injuries have piled up for no clear reason or thread other than the obvious idea that going back to a full 162 schedule – after the 2020 spring break pandemic dysfunction, then accelerating preparation for the shortened season – could have had consequences.
Yes, the Rays use their relievers early and often, but they also closely monitor workload and usage.
“There will always be more that we don’t know than we know, so I’ll stick with it,” said Snyder. “We are in an unprecedented time. Last year we were in a rush. Pitching is dangerous on the arm. We use our bullpen quite a lot; most of these injuries occurred there.
“I do not know why). … I had a few sleepless nights. As long as I take on the role I am in and I am wired as I am, it will be. “
The impact of a full season after just 60 games last year was a cause for concern when plans were finalized for 2021 as teams pondered how to tweak everything from training routines for spring training to regular usage schedules, with some Teams tried six-man rotations.
“I think the pitcher’s workload would be a big issue, which was pretty consistent with what we thought when we got into the season and talked about in spring practice,” said Cash. “Unfortunately, I have the feeling that we are talking too much about it.”
Collin McHugh believes the delayed start of the 2020 season and cut schedule, then a return to a normal slate in 2021, are likely to be responsible for the risk of injury across the league.
McHugh, a 34-year-old 10-season, five-team veteran, said that appears to be the likely reason as many of the majors’ teams have similar injury issues.
“I think anyone can look and see that this year is a different beast than last year for a lot of different reasons,” said McHugh. “This is how you get back into the swing of a 162-game season, which is an insane amount of games when you think about it. … you will have bumps and bruises along the way at any time of the year.
“And in a season like this, some guys will be better off for the extra rest from last year, some guys will struggle to get their sea legs back for 162 games and this pace. We saw it across the league this year, we’re really no different from many other teams. “
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