Charlie Morton (shoulder) goes on injured list

August 10th, 2020

, who left Sunday’s game against the Yankees in the third inning, was placed on the 10-day injured list on Monday with right shoulder inflammation. With Morton going on the injured list, the Rays reinstated left-hander José Alvarado from the paternity list.

Morton walked Aaron Hicks on a fastball up in the zone and looked to be in some discomfort, prompting Rays manager Kevin Cash and athletic trainer Joe Benge to run out to the mound to check on the right-hander. After a brief discussion, Morton handed the ball over to Cash and walked off the mound. Trevor Richards replaced him, pitching four scoreless innings in the Rays’ 4-3 win.

Though Morton was removed from the game and placed on the IL on Monday, the Rays are optimistic that the right-hander will be available soon. Morton did not travel with the team on the upcoming road trip and will continue to get treatment at the alternate training site in Port Charlotte, Fla.

“I think it’s highly [likely],” Cash said, when asked if Morton could come off the IL on Aug. 20. “The first day back would be ideal. That’s us being optimistic, but we have plenty of reason to be optimistic right now.”

Morton started a career-high 33 games in 2019 and immediately became a veteran leader in the Rays’ clubhouse. So far this season, Morton stated that he hasn’t felt completely built up during the condensed season, but he added that he wasn’t sure if the injury was a direct result of that. Morton mentioned tightness in the shoulder area is something he has dealt with before in his career, which is why he, and the team, are optimistic about the short IL stint.

The Rays are now without Morton and Yonny Chirinos, who was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Aug. 3, with right triceps inflammation. With Chirinos and Morton out, the Rays will rely heavily on Blake Snell, Ryan Yarbrough and Tyler Glasnow. The Rays will also lean on Jalen Beeks, Trevor Richards and perhaps Anthony Banda, who is on the team’s taxi squad for the upcoming trip.

Who fills in?
Though Chirinos traveled with the team, it’s still unclear if the right-hander will be able to return on Thursday, when he’s eligible to come off the IL. If Chirinos returns within the next couple of days, the rotation would certainly get a boost. If not, the Rays will have to find plans to get innings for two of its top five starters.

On Monday, Cash said that he “fully envisions” the club to go with an opener, which is something the team hasn’t done as frequently this season as it had in years past. The club utilized Ryan Thompson as the opener in the win over the Yankees on Sunday.

Aside from the opener, the Rays could lean on Anthony Banda and Aaron Slegers, the two pitchers on this trip’s taxi squad. Jalen Beeks and Trevor Richards are two pitchers on the active roster that can provide length in Morton’s and Chirinos’ absence.

“We do have those options,” Cash said. “Really been encouraged by hearing reports of Slegers and what he’s been able to do down there, along with Banda. But Banda has been with us on this taxi squad before so his schedule has been a little bit changed, but Slegers, for the most part, has been down there the whole time. [Slegers is] built up, I believe, to throw four or five innings tomorrow, so he’s [a] full go. We’re really encouraged by the reports that we’re hearing from his performances.”

Thompson’s first win
Thompson picked up his first Major League win on Sunday and said he was treated to a socially distanced beer shower, courtesy of his teammates. He said he wasn’t sure exactly what was thrown at him, but mentioned that it was very cold. Thompson also said that his father, Ed -- who he describes as his "rock" -- already claimed the game ball and it will be placed on his shelf.