Oblique injuries land Patiño, Chargois on IL

April 12th, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays had to further shuffle their pitching staff due to injuries on Tuesday afternoon, placing starter Luis Patiño and reliever JT Chargois on the 10-day injured list.

As expected, the Rays recalled right-hander Tommy Romero from the taxi squad to make his Major League debut against the A’s on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field. They also recalled right-hander Ralph Garza Jr., acquired last Thursday, from Triple-A Durham to fill a spot in the bullpen.

Patiño’s placement on the IL was due to a strained left oblique, which he sustained after throwing only 13 pitches in his season debut against the A’s on Monday night. Chargois also went on the IL due to a left oblique issue, although his was termed “left oblique tightness” and his assignment was made retroactive to Saturday, perhaps suggesting he will have a shorter stay on the IL than Patiño.

“We'll see over the next coming days how quickly they respond to treatment, and then we'll probably have a better gauge of how long they're going to be out,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

In the meantime, Cash said it was too soon to put a timeline on either pitcher’s recovery. Typically a pitcher who sustains a strained oblique, like Patiño, will miss around two months, but Cash noted that Patiño’s age (22) and excellent conditioning might help him come back quicker. The right-hander didn’t want to set a timeframe for his return this early on, either.

“The goal is going to be to try to do it as well as I can, do it as fast as I can, do all the work that I need to do in order to be prepared to go,” he said through interpreter Manny Navarro. “Not do too much [but] make sure I do it well so that I can be ready to go as fast as possible. … I don’t want to put an exact timetable on it, as long as I just prepare to do it well.”

Chargois faced two batters and retired both in the Rays’ 2-1 win over the Orioles on Opening Day and had not pitched since. Cash said Chargois, slated for a high-leverage role in the bullpen, felt the injury “kind of crept up a little bit” near the end of Spring Training, but he managed to pitch through it initially. While he was playing catch over the weekend, though, it flared up again.

While it’s also too soon for the Rays to firmly predict a return date for Chargois, he figures to be back before Patiño based on what they currently know. Garza will take his place in the bullpen after making one scoreless appearance, with one strikeout, for Durham. The Rays claimed the 28-year-old Garza off waivers from the Red Sox only two weeks after Boston claimed him off waivers from Minnesota. Garza noted that he has belongings in three different cities: Worcester (Boston’s Triple-A home), Durham and now St. Petersburg.

“It's an exciting time. Anything I can do to help the team win, I'm up for it,” said Garza (no relation to former Rays starter Matt Garza), who will wear No. 61 (Patiño’s former number). “So as long as I'm here, I'm going to do that.”

Garza made his Major League debut with the Astros in 2021 before the Twins claimed him last August, putting together an overall 3.56 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings over 27 outings in the Majors. He has some intriguing traits, including a diverse arsenal and essentially two different release points depending on whether he’s facing a right-handed or left-handed hitter.

“A little bit different arm slots, not too much different in repertoire,” Garza explained. “More or less, it's a little bit different look to each different guy.”

Tuesday's flurry of moves came a day after the Rays had to place left-handed starter Ryan Yarbrough on the 10-day injured list due to left groin tightness and recalled righty reliever Ryan Thompson from Triple-A. They’ve essentially lost two starters from their Opening Day roster before making a full turn through the rotation, which will require some further maneuvering in the coming days.

The Rays will bump left-hander Josh Fleming out of the bullpen to pitch in some type of bulk-inning role, either starting or following an opener, in Thursday’s series finale against the A’s. That will bump back Drew Rasmussen to start Friday and Corey Kluber to Saturday. They are hoping to have Yarbrough back as soon as possible, likely Monday in Chicago. Romero could stick around.

Beyond that? They’ll be flexible, as usual.

“We'll find ways to be creative and watch all of our pitchers' usage workload and try to get the right matchups in this time where some of our guys are down,” Cash said.