Every team has to deal with injuries over the course of the season – it is simply an inescapable truth when playing 162 games in a season. However, the Rays have lost a number of key pieces to their 2012 club thus far. Here’s a look of who is currently on the DL, and when they are expected to return.
Brandon Allen: Allen was placed on the DL on May 10 with a quadriceps injury. Currently, he is on a rehab assignment with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, where he is 1-7 with 2 walks and a home run. On the year, Allen is 2-13, with a home run and 2 walks for the Rays. Expected back at the end of the month, he will likely end up in the same role as a backup first baseman/outfielder, and pinch hitter.
Robinson Chirinos: Chirinos suffered a concussion after taking a foul ball off the catcher’s mask. Originally on the 15 day DL, he was transferred to the 60 day DL on April 19th. Chirinos had been in the running for one of the catcher spots with the Rays, but is likely to return to Durham when activated.
Kyle Farnsworth: Farnsworth was a revelation last year as the Rays closer; almost doubling his career saves total and posting his best year in the majors at age 35. He injured his right elbow towards the end of spring training, and may begin throwing off a mound in the upcoming week. Expected to potentially return sometime in June, Farnsworth may find himself back in the eighth inning, given how well Fernando Rodney has performed as the closer this year.
Sam Fuld: Fuld is best remembered for his exploits at the beginning of last year, becoming a fan favorite with his defensive ability and highlight plays. He injured his wrist in September, and re-aggravated it on March 23rd. Having undergone surgery on April 3rd, he may be back sometime in August. At that point, Fuld is likely to serve as the fourth outfielder/pinch runner/defensive replacement for the Rays.
Brandon Guyer: Guyer is another player that was brought up due to injury, and promptly got hurt shortly thereafter. He appeared in 3 games thus far for the Rays, going 1-7 with a home run. He was placed on the disabled list on May 16th, retroactive to May 13, with a left shoulder strain. Depending on the health of the Rays when he is eligible to be reactivated, he may end up back in AAA, or with the Rays as an option off the bench.
Desmond Jennings: Jennings is one of the biggest losses for the Rays this year. At the time he sprained his left knee; Jennings was leading the AL in stolen bases, had hit 3 home runs from the leadoff spot, and was playing flawless defense in left and center. Despite originally injuring the knee on May 6, he appeared as a pinch hitter on May 12th, and was placed on the DL on May 14th. Jennings has already begun hitting and throwing. It is thought that he will be back around the beginning of June, taking back his role as the everyday left fielder and catalyst for the Rays lineup.
Jose Lobaton: Lobaton began the year as the Rays backup catcher, appearing in 4 games before injuring his right shoulder and being placed on the DL on April 14th. He began his rehab assignment on May 13 with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, and was moved up to the Montgomery Biscuits on May 16th. There is not yet a time table for his return, as the Rays are not rushing him at this point. When ready to come off the DL, he may end up replacing Chris Gimenez as the backup to Jose Molina, or be assigned to Durham.
Evan Longoria: Longoria suffered a partially torn left hamstring on April 30th while attempting to steal second base. At the time he injured his knee, Longoria was having a bounce back season, hitting .329 with 4 home runs, 19 RBI, and 2 stolen bases. He was having a rough year defensively up to that point, having made 6 errors 23 games, but is still a Gold Glove caliber player at the hot corner. Longoria took batting practice on May 16th and fielded grounders from his knees and played catch on May 17th. He is expected to be sent on a two week rehab assignment, and should be back sometime in June to provide a needed spark to the offense.
Jeff Niemann: Niemann suffered a small fracture in his right fibula after being hit with a ball in the first inning of his start on May 14th. He finished the inning, and attempted to go out for the second before being pulled. At the time, Niemann had a 2-3 record with a 3.38 ERA. He had not allowed more than 3 earned runs in any of his starts. Neimann was placed on the 60 day DL immediately, and is not expected back until mid to late June at the earliest, at which point he will further strengthen a deep Rays rotation.
As bad as the injury situation is for the Rays, reinforcements should be back soon. As long as they remain in the thick of the playoff hunt, the Rays will be poised to make a move in the coming month.