Chirinos activated, heads to Rays' bullpen

September 22nd, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays got closer to being fully healthy by reinstating right-hander from the 10-day injured list before Saturday's game against the Red Sox at Tropicana Field, giving Tampa Bay 39 players on the active roster, extending a franchise record.

“I’m very happy to be able to be back with the team,” Chirinos said. “Now just try and take full advantage of the opportunity to help the team win.”

Chirinos was used as a reliever in his return to the mound in Saturday's 5-4, 11-inning win over Boston, replacing Tyler Glasnow in the fourth inning. Chirinos allowed a leadoff home run to Xander Bogaerts before retiring the next three batters. The right-hander struck out two in his one inning.

Chirinos, who has been sidelined since Aug. 5 with right middle finger inflammation, pitched in multiple simulated games over the past two weeks. Because he threw 40 pitches in his last game, Chirinos will be available as a multi-inning reliever, at least at first.

“We’re excited to have him back,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s a little different than Blake [Snell] and Tyler [Glasnow] in the fact that I think it’s fair to assume that we’re not going to be able to stretch him out to what he was.”

Cash said Chirinos’ role will depend on how he looks in his first couple of appearances. He could serve as an opener or a middle reliever, which would provide another boost to a talented bullpen.

Chirinos said that though he’s used to being a starter, he understands the situation and feels comfortable in a bullpen role. Chirinos has started in 17 of his 24 appearances this season and is 9-5 with a 3.67 ERA.

“I feel good in both roles, and I have a lot of confidence,” Chirinos said. “Right now we’re thinking about making the playoffs, and that’s the only goal. I’m just trying to give my best out on the field and try to help the team win.”

Lowe plays simulated game
played in a simulated game on Saturday at Tropicana Field, and everything checked out well for the infielder. Lowe said he played four innings at second base and was able to turn a couple of double plays. He also batted three times and finished with two hits and a walk.

Lowe won’t play in any more simulated games, and the Rays will decide whether they want to activate the All-Star. Because Lowe is on the 60-day injured list, the Rays would have to make room on the 40-man roster to activate him.

“He’s close,” Cash said. “I saw a video of him going first to third, and he’s running a lot better. I’m not going to say he’s back to his normal speed yet -- he’s going to have to manage that whenever he does get activated -- but we’re encouraged that the at-bats have been really good, the defense has been really good, it’s just running and getting out of the box and us having enough trust in him that he can manage that.”

Cash said the team could have a better idea of its decision on Sunday.