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Rays praise Eovaldi's work ethic in comeback

Right-hander will make first MLB appearance since Aug. 2016 on Wednesday
MLB.com @wwchastain

OAKLAND -- Wednesday night, Nathan Eovaldi will make his first start as a member of the Rays, and his first Major League appearance since Aug. 10, 2016, against the Red Sox in Boston.

Since that time, the hard-throwing right-hander has had Tommy John surgery, as well as another elbow procedure to clean up "loose bodies" this spring.

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OAKLAND -- Wednesday night, Nathan Eovaldi will make his first start as a member of the Rays, and his first Major League appearance since Aug. 10, 2016, against the Red Sox in Boston.

Since that time, the hard-throwing right-hander has had Tommy John surgery, as well as another elbow procedure to clean up "loose bodies" this spring.

View Full Game Coverage

"I'm just trying to think of it as another game," Eovaldi said. "The fact that it's been a long time since I've been out there in the actual game. I think once I get out there and start throwing the ball. Batter's in the box. Take everything as it is. I'll be good to go."

When asked about his goal for his first night back, Eovaldi replied: "Keep my pitch count down and hopefully go six innings."

Video: TB@DET: Eovaldi K's Machado swinging in the 1st

Eovaldi will have have plenty of supporters in the dugout Wednesday night. He's a popular player as much for his personality as for his work ethic.

"I'm excited for him," said Jonny Venters, who has endured three Tommy John surgeries. "I know he's put in a ton of work and a ton of time to get here and to be able to pitch in the Major Leagues. I'm excited to see him throw. I know it wasn't an easy road for him, but he works so hard, and he's such a good guy and good teammate."

Blake Snell said he admires Eovaldi for what he's been through.

"The guy works his butt off, and for him to get another setback was frustrating for all of us," Snell said. "Especially for a guy like him who is always so happy. He just goes with it. Being able to see him pitch Wednesday, I'm very excited."

Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder said having him come back will be a boost to everyone on the team, particularly the pitchers based on "his veteran presence and what he's accomplished in his career" and for still "being a young guy having the ability to influence a lot of this clubhouse, which is still relatively green -- especially on the pitching side."

"It's going to be a huge accomplishment for him, but it's going to be something felt throughout the clubhouse," Snyder said. "He's probably one of the hardest workers I've ever seen from me being a player and a coach at this point."

Video: TB@DET: Eovaldi catches McCann in a rundown in 2nd

Chris Archer said he was just happy to see all of Eovaldi's hard work come to fruition.

"Take the mound, throw that first pitch, take a deep breath and know that all the hard work he's put in," said Archer, noting that the rotaiton needs him. "... That's going to be a huge injection into our team as a whole."

Thursday's finale
While the Rays have not yet named a starter for Thursday's finale against the A's, and will wait to do so, Ryne Stanek appears to be the likely candidate, according to manager Kevin Cash.

"It's tough to name because if we need to use him like we did yesterday [it could change their plans]," Cash said. "It's penciled in to be Stanek. Now if we have to adjust because we play another 13-inning ballgame [like Monday's 1-0 win over the A's in 13 innings] today or tomorrow, then we'll adjust. But that's most likely what we're going with."

Ryan Yarbrough will be the guy likely to follow him. Yarbrough followed Sergio Romo Friday night against the Orioles and allowed just one run in seven innings while striking out eight.

Video: BAL@TB: Yarbrough K's 8 over 7 innings in relief

Representing the Rays
Representing the Rays at this year's Draft will be Sandy Dengler and Lou Wieben.

Dengler is a long-time Rays baseball operations employee, who joined the club in December 1997 and is in her 41st season in professional baseball. She will become the first female club representative at the Draft. Wieben is the area scouting supervisor for Washington D.C., Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

The Draft will begin live on MLB Network and MLB.com on Monday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Prior to the start of the Draft, MLB Network will air a Draft preview show, also simulcast on MLB.com, at 6:00 p.m. The Draft will have 40 rounds, and a club may pass on its selection in any round and not forfeit its right to participate in other rounds.

The 2018 Draft will span three days, as it has since 2009. On Monday, Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A will air exclusively on MLB Network and MLB.com.

Beginning with the first pick in Round 2 and continuing through overall pick number 78, the Draft will air live exclusively on MLB.com, while MLB Network will continue to provide live look-ins and coverage of the Draft on MLB Tonight.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays, Nathan Eovaldi