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Tampa Bay Rays: Wounded Slowly Return to Action

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The Tampa Bay Rays went through the first 40-games of the season without any significant injuries requiring a stint on the disabled list. However, that wasn’t the case in the games that followed.

Everybody knows about the horrific number of injuries Tampa Bay Rays’ players have suffered this year.

At any one time you could find twenty percent or more of the Rays 25-man roster on the DL or nursing minor injuries keeping them out of a few games.

This week was no different as on Wednesday 11 players were on the DL or not available to play.

The injuries sometimes border on being a bad comedy routine.

Logan Forsythe bent over to pick up a towel in the clubhouse and threw his back out.

Nick Franklin was waiting to bat and was hit on the head on a Kevin Kiermaier warm up swing.

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Add to that Matt Duffy being out with a sore Achilles and the Tampa Bay Rays were down to one position player on the bench.

Fortunately, all three should be back in the lineup Friday and despite that the Rays won three straight games without them.

On a positive note, the more seriously injured players that have been on the DL are rounding into shape and most should be back in very soon or early September.

Let’s take a look at who’s returning and how they might affect the team play and rosters.

Chase Whitley came off the 60-day DL Wednesday and was optioned to Montgomery. He has not pitched in a year and a half due to Tommy John surgery.

The Tampa Bay Rays picked up Whitley off waivers from the Yankees in 2015, who was once a well regarded Yankee prospect but fell out of favor due to injuries.

Career wise, he’s 5-5 record with a 5.05 ERA in 28 MLB games. He is under team control until 2020 so he should provide starting pitching depth for 2017.

Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia’s rehab assignment is almost complete after his trip to the 15-day DL with a strained elbow.

Arcia was picked up off waivers from the Minnesota Twins earlier this season and has had only 54 at-bats with the Rays in his brief tenure.

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However, he projects to be a 25 home run and 75 RBI guy, but hasn’t shown much.

He’s not a great fielder but would make a solid DH if he could consistently put up those numbers.

He’s out of options and the Rays don’t want to lose him, so it’s likely that Mikie Mahtook will be sent to Durham until the rosters expand.

Close to a return is Enny Romero,  the hard throwing lefty reliever he took a short trip to the 15-day DL to rest a back strain.

Reports have it that he used the down time to work on some adjustments to his delivery, which would be nice because he has disappointed so far this season.

He has too much raw talent to lose him before he can fully develop and since he is out of options another reliever will have to be optioned out.

Next up is Alex Cobb  who had been the ace of the staff until he was lost to Tommy John surgery in 2015.

Cobb, currently on a rehab assignment has had his ups and downs. Things weren’t going well so he was shut down after a couple of minor league starts.

Now back on track with six minor league starts under his belt, it’s my guess that the Tampa Bay Rays will be very careful with him.

It’s likely he won’t take the mound for the Rays until the rosters expand in September, as his arm isn’t necessarily needed at this point.

Since he is a free agent come 2018, the Tampa Bay Rays will want to make sure he is healthy for next season in the event they want to trade him.

Last but not least is Desmond Jennings.

Jennings has not only had another terrible season performance wise.   He has also, once again, been injured for much of the season.

It’s another knee injury and there is no date for his return.

It will be nice to soon have most of these players back and contributing to the team. However, the even deeper question is why are all of these injuries occurring.

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Baseball is not a contact sport like the NFL or NHL. These are some of the best conditioned athletes in sports and the trainers are well educated.

I can understand, with all of the wicked breaking balls in the game, why pitchers are injured but why are there so many injuries to position players?

At any rate, teams like the Tampa Bay Rays had better find some answers.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Polishing a Few Gems for Success

It’s hard enough to field a competitive team for a small market club without one third of the team out of action and/or on the disabled list.

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