ST. PETERSBURG -- In a surprise move before opening a nine-game homestand, the Rays placed Blake Snell on the 10-day injured list with a fractured right fourth toe, retroactive to Sunday.
Snell said he suffered the injury Sunday at his home as he was trying to move a granite stand in his bathroom. The Rays left-hander didn’t realize that the stand had three parts and the pole fell on his toe as he was moving the large part of the stand.
“I lifted [the stand] up and it wasn’t glued to the pole and the pole came crashing down,” Snell said. “Really dumb, but that’s what happened.”
Despite going on the injured list, Snell and the Rays remain optimistic that the injury will only keep him out for his scheduled Friday start against the Red Sox.
“I’m pushing to be back as soon as possible, but I’ve never broken a bone in my body, so this is a first,” Snell said. “We’ll see what happens. I think it should be one start. That’s my goal, at least.”
Snell, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, has played a key role in why the Rays lead the Majors in team ERA (2.44), starter ERA (1.47) and an MLB-best 12-4 record through 16 games. After allowing five runs against the Astros on Opening Day, Snell has allowed just one run in 19 innings in his last three starts.
“He’ll probably be able to keep his arm in shape enough and hopefully just miss a time or two through the rotation,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “With the way that things have been going and the way he’s been going, you want him out there every fifth day.”
Cash said the team will have some decisions to make when Snell’s spot in the rotation is up on Friday. The Rays have multiple opener days scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday and they haven’t ruled out using the same strategy for the game Friday against the Red Sox.
“We’ll see how we get there,” Cash said. “We have a couple of decisions and thoughts that we have to concern ourselves with. I think we’ll have a better understanding after we get through tonight and how the bullpen is used tonight and then the potential to align some stuff tonight for the next two or three days.”
If all goes well with Snell, the left-hander could be eligible to come back for the April 24 game against the Royals.
With Snell going on the injured list, the Rays called up reliever Emilio Pagan from Triple-A Durham. Pagan was acquired from the Athletics in December and was the last player sent down during Spring Training. In four appearances in Durham, Pagan has seen his velocity rise to as high as 97 mph and didn’t allow an earned run and struck out 10 batters in six innings.
“He was our last guy that we decided on at the end of Spring Training and we felt he had a very deserving camp,” Cash said. “Last season to be on a big league club, we were confident that eventually he would be here and maybe we didn’t want to see him because of [Snell’s injury] but we’re glad to have him and he’ll play a big role in our bullpen.”
Wendle close to return
In some positive injury news, it appears that the Rays are close to getting infielder Joey Wendle back in the lineup. Wendle, who suffered a left hamstring strain on March 31, is set to play in extended games in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Wednesday and Thursday.
“He’ll get through a workout [Tuesday] with us,” Cash said. “But it’s certainly good to see him here active.”
Wendle went through infield drills and batting practice on Tuesday. If all goes well, the Rays could activate the infielder at some point this weekend.
“That’s kind of the goal I’m shooting for, maybe Saturday or something like that,” Wendle said. “But we’re taking it one day at a time at this point, and all I know is that tomorrow I’m going to get some at-bats in extended.”