'I feel good': Glasnow K's 2 in return to mound

September 8th, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rehabbing Rays ace pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts in his first Minor League rehabilitation start for Triple-A Durham on Wednesday night.

The most important thing about Glasnow’s first game action since June 14, 2021?

“I feel good,” Glasnow said by phone from Durham Bulls Athletic Park. “It all feels pretty normal.”

Glasnow threw 19 pitches (11 strikes), and his fastball clocked in between 96-98 mph against the top of the Yankees’ Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lineup. He issued a leadoff walk to top prospect Anthony Volpe then retired each of the next three hitters he faced: A swinging strikeout, a called strikeout and a groundout to rehabbing shortstop Wander Franco.

The 6-foot-8 right-hander had been facing hitters in live batting practice the past few weeks, but Wednesday was his first time in a game since his early exit after working four innings against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field last summer. Glasnow had Tommy John surgery last August, and he’s been working his way back since.

The Rays designed Glasnow’s rehab program with a 2023 return in mind, something they recently reiterated when he signed a two-year extension through the ‘24 season. However, it’s possible that Glasnow could pitch for Tampa Bay this season, depending on how he bounces back physically now that he’s pitching in games again.

Having Glasnow back would be a huge boon for a Rays staff that could see the return of left-handed ace Shane McClanahan late next week. Glasnow looked like one of the best pitchers in the Majors before his injury last season, recording a 2.66 ERA with 123 strikeouts in 88 innings over his first 14 starts.

Glasnow said he’s sometimes felt sore after his live BP sessions, but his between-outings recovery has “definitely been trending up.” How he feels after Wednesday’s outing will determine what comes next.

“I'm going to have to wait and see, like, [how I feel] recovery-wise, I guess, and then kind of get back with them and figure out what they want me to do,” Glasnow said. “I'm assuming I'm probably going to throw more [in Triple-A rehab games], I guess. Really, I don't know. I think it's like a rolling schedule at this point, but I think it's more waking up and like figuring out how I've recovered, and just checking all those boxes.”

He checked another one Wednesday night.

Wearing a white No. 29 Durham Bulls jersey, Glasnow walked Volpe on five pitches then found himself right back in a competitive mindset after more than a year of work focused primarily on getting and staying healthy. He threw all three of his pitches -- fastball, slider and curveball -- and consistently threw strikes the rest of the inning.

“It was like, 'All right, don't do that.' I just kind of went back to like, 'All right, I've got to try to compete,' get back to not like the preparation mindset,” Glasnow said. “After that, it just felt way, way, way sharper. So once a guy got on and I quickened up my delivery, it felt really good.”

It showed. Glasnow struck out the next hitter, Blake Perkins, with a nasty curveball below the zone, then caught Ben Rortvedt looking on a high slider. Five pitches later, Josh Breaux hit a grounder that Franco flipped to first baseman Tristan Gray for the third out. That was likely Glasnow’s last hitter, anyway, as he was only slated to throw around 20 pitches in his first rehab outing.

“That was the first time I think I've actually felt normal, like I'm not trying to feel for things. I just had a guy on, and it got me back into like, 'All right, I'm competing again,’” Glasnow said. “That was the first time I'd done that, and that was probably the best I had felt on a mound when the guy got on. So that was good.”