Brent Honeywell Jr. got the phone call just before midnight on Monday, and less than seven hours later he was on a plane heading to Kansas City.
On Tuesday night, Honeywell tossed 1 1/3 innings in relief for the Rays. The last time he appeared with the club — making a triumphant MLB debut on April 11 that was 1,300 days in the making — the 26-year-old was promptly returned to the alternate training site the following day. But this time, with his role still undefined, Honeywell appears to be sticking around.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said that if Honeywell is limited to shorter outings, the “theory is he bounces back quicker,” and thus could justify maintaining a big league roster spot. It’s just a question of how quick, and gauging what’s best for the player and team.
To this point, Honeywell has pitched roughly every five days at either the alternate site or in the Majors. That kind of workload doesn’t make much sense for a bullpen arm, but given that Honeywell had four elbow surgeries by the age of 25, the Rays are understandably being cautious with their 2014 second-round Draft pick.
“We want to make sure that we're prioritizing his bounce-back and his health,” Cash said. “So we'll give him a couple days and then we'll go from there, see how he feels.”
Cash also made sure to rule out the notion that Honeywell is being limited to short-inning work this season: “If he's bouncing back and he feels good, I think down the road there's a chance to put a bigger workload on him.”
Honeywell said he wasn’t sure when he’ll pitch next, but that he’s been open with the team about how he feels and how he’s recovering after outings.
“I’m recovering well,” he said. “Who knows? They’re going to do what they feel like is in my best interest, that’s for sure.”
Arozarena, Margot sit vs. righty
The Rays loaded up on lefty bats against Royals right-hander Jakob Junis on Wednesday, which meant Randy Arozarena and Manuel Margot were both held out of the starting lineup.
Junis has allowed a .762 OPS to righties in his career — compared to an .809 OPS versus lefties — but Cash also made this decision with an eye on the upcoming schedule.
“We have an off-day [Thursday] and we’re projected to face five out of six left-handed pitchers [coming up],” he said. “So our right-handed bats are going to get a lot of work in when we get back home.”
Tampa Bay projects to see three lefties in a row versus Toronto this weekend (Steven Matz, Robbie Ray and Hyun Jin Ryu), followed by Oakland’s Sean Manaea.
Around the horn
• Rays reliever Cody Reed will have a Botox injection Thursday to assist with his left thumb weakness, which recently landed him on the 10-day injured list. Reed’s appointment was supposed to be Wednesday, but Cash said there were “travel issues” related to the medicine, which caused the delay.
• Trevor Richards earned his first career save on Tuesday, working three innings on 46 pitches. He became the third Rays pitcher this season to earn a save and the 14th to do so since the start of last season (six more than any other MLB team). Cash called Richards’ performance “huge,” given that it likely saved the team from having to use one or two more relievers.
“We were concerned -- how are we going to get through this game?” Cash said. “We really needed him to finish the game when he came in, and he did. … Just an outstanding effort by the bullpen to give us a little bit more time [for rest] with Diego [Castillo], [Ryan] Thompson, with [Jeffrey] Springs. That’s helped.”