Pham out of lineup with sore hand

August 11th, 2019

SEATTLE -- Attrition never comes at a convenient time, but as the banged up Rays navigate their way through the final seven weeks, they’re finding ways to win with an offense that, at times, can appear makeshift.

On Saturday against the Mariners, led off for the first time this season for , whose right hand has bothered him since sliding back into base in Toronto two weeks ago.

Pham is day to day, but he joins a beleaguered offense that on Friday lost Yandy Diaz for the rest of the regular season and is already without All-Star second baseman Brandon Lowe (right shin), who still had limited mobility running on Saturday in St. Petersburg. Even Kiermaier is still experiencing discomfort in the left thumb that sent him to the injured list in July, but he’s gone 9-for-30 since returning.

Pham, who typically takes a high number of swings pregame, was restricted from taking cuts and he likely won’t take any Sunday ahead of a day game. Pham is hitting .268/.368/.444 with 16 homers and 49 RBIs, third most on the team.

“It's been bothering him. I think a certain pitch or a certain swing at times, it gets jammed or tightened up a little bit,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said, noting that Pham could likely return Sunday. “It could aggravate it a little bit more, but I think he feels it on just about every swing.”

For a club that is already without starting pitchers Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Yonny Chirinos, offensive injuries could only complicate their postseason aspirations.

The Rays’ next 15 games are against clubs in last or second-to-last place (Mariners, Padres, Tigers and Orioles). They’ve also shown more life at the plate after a terrible June and adding Eric Sogard and Jesus Aguilar ahead of the Trade Deadline. Matt Duffy being healthy again has also helped greatly. Their 4.07 pitches per plate appearance in the second half are fourth most in the Majors, and way up from their 3.90 mark before the break, and their .805 OPS ranks sixth highest.

Yarbrough excited to face former team

Ryan Yarbrough long envisioned he’d be making many starts in Seattle after being drafted by the Mariners in 2014, but after being acquired by the Rays in December 2017, he makes his Seattle debut on Sunday.

Yarbrough is earning Major League innings in part due to the Rays’ rotation injuries, and this time through the rotation, the club is opting to deploy starters more conventionally, which means Yarbrough -- who says he’s stretched out to a starter’s workload -- will pitch the first inning instead of following an opener, as he has in 14 of his 19 outings.

"Honestly, I feel like being traded here was the best thing that could've happened to me," Yarbrough said. "... Obviously, with how they approach development and the pitching side, it was probably the best thing for me to come here and I couldn't be more excited to be here."

Minor League updates

• Trade Deadline acquisition Trevor Richards could be vying for big league innings as a depth piece, and he took another step toward being stretched out by throwing 49 pitches over 2 1/3 frames for Triple-A Durham on Saturday. Richards gave up one run on three hits and a walk, with four strikeouts.

• Jose Alvarado will pitch again Sunday for Durham, but it’s unclear if he’ll rejoin the Rays. The club might be inclined to let the flame-throwing lefty work through some of the command issues that led to a 1.79 strikeout-to-walk ratio before he strained his right oblique last month.

• The Rays signed outfielder Dylan Cozens to a two-year Minor League deal on Saturday. Cozens is recovering from season-ending toe surgery that he underwent in May, and he was released by the Phillies on Aug. 1. The Rays are hopeful that Cozens can be a developmental experiment, potentially replicating the 40 homers and 125 RBIs he had for the Phils’ Double-A team in 2016.