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Jake Odorizzi released by Rays, but will continue comeback bid

ST. PETERSBURG — Jake Odorizzi’s comeback attempt with his adopted hometown Rays has come to an end — for now.

Odorizzi, 34, was granted his release by the Rays on Thursday, following an abbreviated outing on Sunday in his second start for Triple-A Durham.

Odorizzi said he is not going to retire, but is planning to continue his comeback bid — potentially with the Rays — later this season once he recovers from a left hamstring strain that limited the quality of his outings and his fastball velocity to the mid-80-mph range.

“It’s a non-arm-related issue, so it’s just rest and recover and then get things going again from there,” he said. “The door is open to reunite with the Rays this year, or any team in general.”

Odorizzi, a veteran of 11 major-league seasons, including 2013-17 with the Rays, was trying to get back to the majors after spending 2023 rehabbing from right shoulder surgery.

When a major-league contract offer didn’t materialize, he signed a minor-league deal with the Rays on March 15, and, in ongoing consultation with team officials, he agreed to an accelerated timetable that eventually included one spring training appearance and two starts for Durham.

“The hamstring issue happened in spring training (shortly after signing), I tried to pitch through it and just got to the point where it was becoming non-competitive to continue that route and rest was needed,” he said.

Plus, he didn’t want to risk the potential for an arm or shoulder injury by compensating for the leg issue.

Odorizzi lives in the North Tampa area with his wife and two sons, so he plans to rehab the hamstring issue at home, and then start throwing and building up arm strength at the Florida Baseball ARMory facility where he has trained in previous offseasons. He said he wasn’t sure how long it will take for his hamstring to heal, but said he hopes it is more a matter of weeks than several months.

“Jake joined us on a very compressed timeline to get himself major-league ready,” Rays baseball operations president Erik Neander said. “This was an agreement built on mutual respect and trust but it was a bit too much to ask. We’ll continue to stay in touch with Jake as he continues his progression and we’re thankful he gave it a shot.”

Odorizzi said he was “super appreciative” of Neander and the Rays giving him the opportunity, and that it would be “special for a lot of reasons” to make it back with them.

“They worked with me throughout this entire time and we gave it our best effort, physically speaking, with what we had in a short timeframe, and we knew the timeframe was expedited with the late signing‚” he said.

In parts of 11 big-league seasons, Odorizzi compiled a 74-69, 3.99 record in 241 games (237 starts) and postseason appearances with the 2019 Twins and 2021 Astros, and he was a 2019 All-Star for Minnesota.

Goodrum coming, Waguespack starting

Infielder Niko Goodrum, acquired from Minnesota just before opening day, is expected to be called up Friday when second baseman Brandon Lowe is placed on the injured list due to a right oblique strain. Goodrum, 32, is a switch-hitter who has played everywhere on the field but catcher during parts of six seasons in the majors with the Twins, Tigers and Astros. In nine games with Durham, he hit .316 with three homers.

Right-handed long reliever Jacob Waguespack will start Friday against the Giants, with lefty Tyler Alexander expected to remain on the bereavement list for what the team said is a private matter. Ryan Pepiot will start as planned Saturday, then the Rays could slot Alexander back in on Sunday and give the top three starters — Zach Eflin, Aaron Civale and Zack Littell — an additional day of rest, so six total, between starts as Friday they open a stretch of playing 13 straight days.

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