Injuries & Moves: Alexander recalled; Kuhnel claimed

July 23rd, 2024


July 23: LHP recalled from Triple-A Durham; RHP optioned
Alexander broke camp in the Rays' rotation and pitched to a 6.19 ERA in 11 outings (six starts) before being optioned to Triple-A Durham. He was back in Tampa Bay's clubhouse on Monday morning and was officially recalled on Tuesday to pitch after opener Shawn Armstrong against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre.

Alexander is taking the rotation spot left vacant by right-hander Ryan Pepiot, who was placed on the 15-day injured list on Sunday due to a right knee infection. Pepiot was discharged from a New York hospital on Monday and traveled home to St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The Rays sent down Zuber, who made his first big league appearance since 2021 against the Yankees after his promotion, to make room for Alexander.

Alexander said he felt good during his time in Triple-A, where he put together a 4.54 ERA in 35 2/3 innings over seven appearances (five starts). The lefty had a memorable outing in Toronto on May 17, when he carried a perfect-game bid into the eighth inning.

July 23: RHP claimed off waivers from the Brewers
The Rays had three open spots on their 40-man roster after parting with pitchers Chris Devenski, Aaron Civale and Phil Maton, and they filled one of them by picking up Kuhnel off waivers. The 29-year-old reliever has a Minor League option remaining and is expected to report to Triple-A Durham.

Kuhnel made one big league appearance for the Astros this season, and he pitched nine times for the Reds and Astros last year. The right-hander appeared in 53 games for the Reds in 2022, recording a 6.36 ERA with 56 strikeouts and 14 walks. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound reliever has put together a 2.30 ERA over 22 relief appearances for the Triple-A affiliates of the Astros, Blue Jays and Brewers this season.

"An arm that can do some different things with the ball. Has size, has strength, some strike-throwing," president of baseball operations Erik Neander said. "Just a chance to bring in a little more depth, and we're in a position with some open roster spots to be more opportunistic."

July 23: Still no update on 1B (restricted list)
Díaz did not travel with the team to New York on Thursday while attending to a family matter, and he was not with the club for its series opener in Toronto on Tuesday night. The Rays played short-handed on Friday, but they addressed the situation before Saturday afternoon’s game by recalling infielder Curtis Mead from Triple-A Durham. Manager Kevin Cash said Sunday morning that there was "no real update" on Díaz. Cash did not have an update before Monday's series finale at Yankee Stadium or Tuesday's game, either.

Díaz‘s placement on the restricted list is not considered punitive, and Cash said on Saturday that Díaz was in daily communication with the club. It's not yet clear when Díaz will rejoin the team, with Cash saying the Rays are "taking it day to day."


RHP (right knee infection)
Expected return:
Early August
Pepiot, who is 6-5 with a 3.92 ERA in 17 starts for the Rays, will miss at least the minimum 15 days due to a knee infection that emerged at the end of the All-Star break and required a stay in the hospital in New York to receive antibiotics and IV fluids. It's not clear how Pepiot sustained the injury, but manager Kevin Cash said he was "doing much better" after being discharged from the hospital on July 22 and flying home to St. Petersburg. Cash said Pepiot's knee is still swollen, but he is expected to get back on the mound relatively quickly. (Last updated: July 23)

LHP (left forearm flexor strain)
Expected return: Possibly late July
Lovelady, who was acquired from the Cubs in May, was placed on the 15-day injured list on June 8 with a left forearm flexor strain one day after pitching a scoreless inning against the Orioles. The lefty reliever said he felt "a little tightness right below my bicep" on a 2-2 fastball during that inning but managed to get out of the inning by throwing two more sliders. He said he wasn't overly worried or concerned about the injury, had never felt it before and hasn't dealt with a similar issue in the past.

Lovelady started a rehab assignment on July 8 with the Rookie-level FCL Rays, giving up four runs on three hits and a walk while recording two outs, including one strikeout. He pitched a scoreless inning with one strikeout for Triple-A Durham on July 11, recorded four outs on July 14 and struck out three on July 20. For the season, Lovelady is 2-4 with a 7.62 ERA in 15 games -- including a 2-3 mark with a 7.36 ERA in eight games for the Rays. (Last updated: July 23)


RHP (right flexor strain)
Expected return: Possibly August
Rasmussen began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham on July 21 by pitching a perfect 15-pitch first inning (11 strikes) with one strikeout and touching 98.8 mph with his fastball. Manager Kevin Cash called it a "huge step in the right direction" for Rasmussen, who is still likely to return during the final two months of the regular season.

During his recovery, Rasmussen said he has made some changes to limit the stress on his elbow without making significant changes to his arsenal. He noted they will take his rehab stint "outing by outing" as he regains his stamina on the mound.

Rasmussen went on the IL a day after tossing seven scoreless innings on May 11, 2023, in the Rays' 8-2 victory at Yankee Stadium. Cash announced last July 8 that Rasmussen was slated to undergo a season-ending hybrid internal brace procedure, which he underwent last July 24. Rasmussen previously had two Tommy John surgeries. He was placed on the 60-day IL on Feb. 20. (Last updated: July 22)

LHP (Tommy John surgery)
Expected return:
Late July/early August
Springs made his eighth rehab start with Triple-A Durham on July 20, allowing two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out three over three innings. His outing was cut short after 48 pitches due to a rain delay, but he is on turn to pitch five innings in his next rehab start for Durham.

Springs' longest rehab start came on July 14, when he allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits and one walk while striking out three over 4 2/3 innings. The Rays are evaluating Springs' readiness to return on a start-to-start basis.

Springs underwent Tommy John surgery on April 24, 2023, and he was placed on the 60-day injured list on March 15. (Last updated: July 21)

LHP (Tommy John surgery)
Expected return: Likely 2025
McClanahan has ramped up to throwing from 135 feet. Manager Kevin Cash said on July 9 that McClanahan, who is still unlikely to pitch this season, is nearing a built-in rest period in his rehab in which he will stop throwing for at least a week. The left-hander underwent Tommy John surgery on Aug. 21, 2023, his second time having the procedure.

McClanahan is expected to miss the entire 2024 season, although the two-year contract he signed with the Rays in January to avoid arbitration included escalators for his 2025 to account for the possibility of a late-season return in ’24, if his rehab allows for it. He was officially placed on the 60-day IL on Feb. 14. (Last updated: July 9)

RHP (right rotator cuff inflammation)
Expected return:
Waguespack was moved to the 60-day IL on May 18. He sustained a right shoulder injury during his last outing for Triple-A Durham that wasn't expected to require a significant stint on the shelf, but the Rays gained some flexibility by recalling him and placing him on the 15-day IL on May 6. Waguespack retired all four batters he faced, striking out three of them, in a start for the Rookie-level Florida Complex League Rays on June 25. But he has since been shut down with a lower back issue, with no timeframe for his return provided. (Last updated: July 9)

LHP (left elbow; Minor League injured list)
Expected return:
Possibly late 2024
McKay, who began the season with Double-A Montgomery, reported left elbow discomfort on May 3 after being promoted to Triple-A Durham and was placed on the Minor League 60-day IL on May 11. He told the club the issue began after his April 30 outing with Montgomery.

A former top prospect who has been set back by a series of arm injuries since debuting for the Rays in 2019, McKay was diagnosed with a flexor/pronator strain and an accompanying UCL sprain after having an MRI exam reviewed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Doctors recommended five to six weeks of rehab, with no throwing, before he builds back up to full activity. The Rays' expectation is that McKay will be back to full baseball activity in three months. (Last updated: May 14)