ST. PETERSBURG -- Kyle Farnsworth will begin his rehab assignment Monday night, when the Stone Crabs play the St. Lucie Mets in Port Charlotte, Fla.
Farnsworth went 5-1 with a 2.18 ERA and 25 saves in 2011 while serving as the Rays' closer. But the 36-year-old right-hander irritated his elbow during Spring Training and has been on the disabled list all season.
Tampa Bay has been taking a cautious approach regarding his return. Manager Joe Maddon has said if the team can get Farnsworth back by July, it would be a better acquisition than any move the Rays could make at the Trade Deadline.
Fernando Rodney has done a superlative job filling in as closer. The hard-throwing right-hander earned his 18th save on Sunday, when he preserved the Rays' 4-2 win over the Marlins in Miami.
On Oct. 31, Tampa Bay picked up Farnsworth's $3.3 million option for 2012. He will be a free agent after the season.
Bill Chastain i a reporter for MLB.com.