Rays’ Pete Fairbanks heads to injured list with ‘nerve-related’ issue

Rays’ Pete Fairbanks heads to injured list with ‘nerve-related’ issue

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays closer Pete Fairbanks was placed on the injured list before Monday’s game against the Tigers with what the team called a “nerve-related issue.”

Reliever Kevin Kelly was called up from Triple-A Durham to take his spot on the roster.

Fairbanks was sent for imaging and testing on his neck and shoulder Monday after feeling what manager Kevin Cash called “a zinger in his hand” while playing catch before Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium. Cash said the team will continue testing.

“I think we did kind of the neck and shoulder (Monday), and we’re just going to continue to work down the arm,” Cash said. “I really have no idea what we are looking for or what we are going to find. It might be nothing. I really don’t know.”

Cash, however, knew it was time to shut down the struggling reliever and find out what was bothering him. Fairbanks spent Friday in a hotel in New York battling a stomach issue and then Saturday getting treatment for his hand.

“We tried to stay away from him,” Cash said. “He was getting treatment the entire day on Saturday, and we were still optimistic that he was going to be good to go on Sunday. But it repeated itself Sunday before the game.”

Though he has blown only one save opportunity, Fairbanks has had a rough start to the season. He has allowed seven earned runs and eight walks over seven innings for a 9.00 ERA. By comparison, he allowed only 13 earned runs and 20 walks in 45⅓ innings last season, when he had a 2.58 ERA.

In his most recent appearance Wednesday, Fairbanks allowed two earned runs and blew the save in a 5-4 loss to the Angels.

Cash said he did not believe Fairbanks’ struggles earlier this season were due to the same issue. “He would have said something immediately after, and he did not,” Cash said. “So, I don’t think so.”

In the past, Fairbanks has dealt with Raynaud’s syndrome, a disorder that can cause a pins-and-needles-type sensation to a person’s extremities. The numbness commonly flares up in colder weather.

When Fairbanks missed time last season with Raynaud’s, his feel and grip on the ball were impacted by restricted blood flow to his fingers.

The Rays bullpen entered Monday’s game with a 5.34 ERA, the second worst in the American League.

In Fairbanks’ absence, Cash said the team will continue to mix and match relievers to cover the ninth inning.

“It will be all very much matchup-based with who’s available, and we’ll find ways to get creative,” Cash said. “I don’t think it should cause too much (change). Guys have pitched in all of these different roles before. We’re just (down) one really quality arm down there.”

On the mend and move

• Pitcher Taj Bradley (pectoral strain) threw four innings (62 pitches) Monday in extended spring training. His next outing will be with Triple-A Durham, likely on Sunday, Cash said.

• Infielder Jonathan Aranda (broken finger) and outfielder Jonny DeLuca (broken hand) are playing in extended spring training and expected to move to a rehab assignment in Durham by the end of the week.

• Outfielder Josh Lowe (oblique strain) came out of his rehab games this weekend feeling good, but since he did not get many at-bats in spring training he will continue his rehab at Triple A.

• Pitcher Shane Baz (Tommy John rehab) has an extended spring training scheduled for Wednesday. If all goes well, the Rays will continue to build him up from there.

• Second baseman Brandon Lowe (oblique) has started swinging and taking ground balls. “It’s kind of progress as tolerated,” Cash said, “but nothing huge yet.”

• Shortstop Taylor Walls (hip surgery) has been slowed down for two weeks due to remaining inflammation. “We’ll let him continue to work on strengthening the area and then ramp it back up,” Cash said.

Good to go

Centerfielder Jose Siri was back in the lineup Monday after spending Sunday in a New York hospital being treated for a kidney stone. Siri said he is taking medicine and hydrating, and he felt good enough to play. He went 0-for-3 and is now hitless in his last 20 at-bats.

“I went to the hospital, they looked at me and said everything was pretty good,” Siri said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “I went again (Monday) to the medic to check me, and they said everything’s fine. My legs feel good, everything feels good. It just hasn’t come out yet. But I am good.”

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