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Hard-throwing Fairbanks joins Rays' bullpen

@juanctoribio
August 17, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays recalled right-hander Peter Fairbanks from Triple-A Durham on Friday and optioned Jose De Leon to make room on the 25-man roster. Fairbanks, who was acquired from the Rangers on July 13 in exchange for prospect Nick Solak, gives the Rays another right-handed bullpen option who

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays recalled right-hander Peter Fairbanks from Triple-A Durham on Friday and optioned Jose De Leon to make room on the 25-man roster.

Fairbanks, who was acquired from the Rangers on July 13 in exchange for prospect Nick Solak, gives the Rays another right-handed bullpen option who can reach triple digits on the radar gun.

“We saw him briefly when he was in Texas, but he’s worked really hard on some of the messages that [Triple-A pitching coach Rick Knapp] and [pitching coach Kyle Snyder] provide,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s a powerful guy. Big fastball, big slider, get it in the zone and trust the stuff and trust the defense behind you.”

Fairbanks made his Rays debut in Friday's 2-0 loss to the Tigers, allowing a run on two hits in one inning. He was optioned back to Durham after Saturday's game to make room for Trevor Richards, who was in line to make his Tampa Bay debut on Sunday.

In eight outings for Texas this season, Fairbanks had a 9.35 ERA over 8 2/3 innings, but he had an impressive strikeout ratio, recording 15 punchouts.

The strikeouts were the reason the Rays were interested in acquiring the flamethrower, but they decided to send him to Durham to work on his command and adjust to the franchise’s pitching philosophy.

“It’s exciting,” Fairbanks said. “I’m thrilled to be here. The Rays have done a lot of great things on the pitching side of things. I haven’t heard a bad thing yet about anybody on the pitching side, and they’re a playoff contender, so I’m definitely excited to be here.”

While in Durham, Fairbanks continued to show those impressive strikeout numbers, recording 19 over 10 1/3 innings. He had a 3.48 ERA in 10 appearances with the Bulls, limiting opposing hitters to a .162 batting average.

Fairbanks has undergone Tommy John surgery twice. The first came as a junior in high school, and the latest happened in 2017, which forced him to miss the rest of the ‘17 season and all of the '18 campaign.

“It’s kind of the end of one journey, but kind of the beginning to continue to take those next steps,” Fairbanks said. “It’s been a hell of a year, after spending two [years] in rehab after building back to hopefully get to this point and continue to go from there.”

Fairbanks' role in the Rays' bullpen is to be determined. But with the way Tampa Bay utilizes its relievers, Fairbanks knows he has to be ready to go in whatever role the team asks of him.

Even after struggling for most of June, the Rays' bullpen entered Friday’s game against the Tigers second in the Majors with a 3.64 ERA, behind just the Indians.

“I’m excited to be here,” Fairbanks said. “They’re competing and doing well. Any chance that I get to help that, that’s all I can ask for.”

Injury updates
Tyler Glasnow continues to make progress and is still optimistic that he’ll be able to return to the mound in 2019. After throwing from 90 feet over the past couple of days, the right-hander is slated to throw his first bullpen session on Monday. Glasnow, who said he feels “really good,” will throw only fastballs during the bullpen session, but it will be another step in the right direction.

• The Rays received some good news regarding outfielder Avisaíl García, as everything checked out well with his strained right oblique after an MRI on Friday. Cash said that the team was “encouraged” by the news and hopes that it’ll be close to a minimum stint on the injured list for Garcia, who went on the IL on Wednesday.

• Infielder Brandon Lowe (right shin) played back-to-back days on Wednesday and Thursday for the GCL Rays and will play multiple games with Class A Advanced Charlotte as part of his next step in rehab. Lowe said he’s starting to feel confident with his injury and continues to check off boxes for his return, but there’s still no timetable.

• Infielder Joey Wendle (right forearm) will join Lowe with the Stone Crabs and will play a pair of games in Port Charlotte. Wendle said he wants to make sure that there’s no lingering effect from an injury that has landed him on the injured list twice this season.

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.