The Rays lost yet another key reliever to an early-season injury on Tuesday, as they placed left-hander Cody Reed on the 10-day injured list due to left thumb weakness.
Reed’s 10-day IL assignment was made retroactive to Saturday. The Rays recalled right-hander Brent Honeywell Jr. from their alternate training site in Port Charlotte, Fla., to take his place. Honeywell, who has been built up to work two or three innings at a time, immediately got in on the action and recorded four outs out of the bullpen in Tuesday night's 14-7 win in Kansas City.
Reed’s injury is the same one that sidelined him last September after only two appearances with the Rays, manager Kevin Cash said. During Spring Training, the lefty described the issue as “weakness and numbness in my hand,” potentially even a mild form of thoracic outlet syndrome, that affected his grip strength and required a Botox injection in the offseason. But he reported to camp feeling healthy and pitching well, earning a high-leverage spot in the bullpen following injuries to Nick Anderson, Pete Fairbanks and Chaz Roe.
Reed pitched in five games this season, making four scoreless appearances before giving up two runs (one earned) in the 10th inning of Tampa Bay’s 6-4 loss to Texas last Thursday. Cash said Reed threw off the mound during batting practice on Monday, but his thumb “just didn’t feel right.” Reed was sent back to St. Petersburg to be evaluated by doctors.
“It's an issue that he's tried to manage -- and give him a lot of credit. He worked hard, managed it well in the offseason,” Cash said. “That feeling of numbness, or not being able to feel certain parts of his pitching hand, just crept up.”
Meanwhile, the Rays’ pitching injuries continue to pile up. They are now without Reed, Anderson (right elbow sprain, 60-day IL), Fairbanks (strained right rotator cuff, 10-day), Roe (strained right shoulder, 60-day), Collin McHugh (lower back strain, 10-day) and Chris Archer (right lateral forearm tightness, 10-day), along with four pitchers who began the season on the 60-day IL: Jalen Beeks, Yonny Chirinos, Colin Poche and Oliver Drake.
Those absences left Diego Castillo as the highest-leverage option in the bullpen and required others, like Ryan Thompson and Andrew Kittredge, to step into bigger spots. The rash of injuries also created opportunities for pitchers like Jeffrey Springs and Hunter Strickland to carve out important roles.
“We’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They've handled things really well,” Cash said. “We've dealt with our fair share of adversity in the bullpen. We are missing some key guys that we've relied heavily on over the last couple seasons. But we've also had some guys do some really good things. … There's plenty of guys down there that have really stepped up and kind of held it down and continue to buy us time, and that's what we're going to need out of them.”
Honeywell, the Rays’ No. 19 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is back with Tampa Bay after a one-day stint on April 11. Honeywell made his long-awaited Major League debut that afternoon at Tropicana Field, retiring all six Yankees hitters he faced as Tampa Bay’s opener. It was the first time Honeywell had faced another team in a regular-season or postseason game since the Triple-A national championship on Sept. 19, 2017, going 1,300 days and four elbow surgeries between meaningful competitive outings.
Cash said Honeywell had been pitching on a starter’s schedule at the alternate training site, working two or three innings every fifth day. The Rays needed him Tuesday night after starter Rich Hill was knocked out before recording an out in the third inning, so Honeywell entered after reliever Andrew Kittredge.
The righty worked around a two-out walk in a scoreless fourth inning, gave up a one-out homer to Carlos Santana in the fifth and exited after walking Salvador Perez, then allowing a single to Jorge Soler. Honeywell threw 27 pitches in his first regular-season appearance out of the bullpen since he was pitching for Rookie-level Princeton in 2014.
“It's different. He's always been a starter. We've seen some guys [for whom] it doesn't factor at all, then maybe some guys, mentally, it's a different thought process,” Cash said. “But I would imagine Honey is really excited to be here and good to go [in] whatever role he's asked. It's nice that we're able to add to our bullpen, because we've used them heavily.”