If a pitcher has been shut down or is on the IR, it must be spring training for the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte.
Due to a lat muscle injury, pitcher Pete Fairbanks will not throw for six weeks. Factor in his rehab time, and Fairbanks could miss twelve weeks. This puts his return at some point mid-season when he could take the mound in a regular-season game.
Fairbanks has had a history of injuries with the Rays. He has missed 50 games in the last two seasons with various shoulder injuries, although when healthy has pitched well, going 9-9 with a 3.25 ERA.
The Rays are already down Nick Anderson, who will miss most of the season as he recovers from October shoulder surgery.
The Rays have Jason Adam, Ryan Thompson, and Chris Mazza as viable candidates to replace Fairbanks in the bullpen.
–In a move that was greeted with a yawn in some baseball circles, the Rays picked up the left-handed bat they had been working on getting as they acquired Harold Ramirez from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for minor league infielder Esteban Quiroz.
Ramirez hit .271 with 18 homers and 92 runs batted in two seasons with Miami and Cleveland. Ramirez will be with the big league club when they break camp next week. He is out of options and would have to clear waivers should the Rays option him this season.
Rays GM Peter Bendix talked about what motivated them to acquire Ramirez from the Cubs. “We saw somebody who can hit. We like his bat and especially against left-handed pitching. It’s an area where we could use some help right now. So he’s somebody that we think can raise our floor. If he can come in and just kind of hit and DH, I think that’s what we’re looking for.”
Ramirez is happy to be joining a playoff-caliber team like the Rays. “I was very excited because this team, they like to compete a lot, They want to go to the playoffs, so I’m going to give my 100 percent over here.”
The Rays plan to use Ramirez as their primary right-handed DH and use Ramirez as an outfielder against left-handed pitchers.
Ramirez joins an outfield group of Austin Meadows, Kevin Keirmaier, Manuel Margot, Randy Arozarena, and Brett Phillips.
–Outfielder Kevin Keirmaier should be back on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins. Keirmaier has missed the last few days with some soreness in his groin and was shut down as a precautionary measure. Keirmaier said he would be ready for the season opener against the Orioles on April 8.
“I’m not worried about it whatsoever,” Kiermaier said. “It’s just kind of a precautionary thing. It’s still not ideal. But I’ve got my mind set on April 8, and I know I’ll be more than ready for that. This is just another little bump in the road, but if anyone can get through it, it’s me. I promise you that. I’ll be ready to go.”
–Shane McClanahan is expected to start the opener against Baltimore on April 8.