Ryan Pepiot set to rejoin Rays in top form — though with one change

ST. PETERSBURG — Ryan Pepiot is set to return to the mound for the Rays on Wednesday, confident he can return to the form he showed before being hit by a line drive May 5 against the Mets.

“That’s the goal,” he said.

Pepiot, though, will look different to the Red Sox than he did while sitting in the dugout last week at Fenway Park.

That’s because he took advantage of his wife, Lilia, skipping a road trip to pack up their Arizona home and joined the group of Rays who are sporting mustaches.

But Pepiot also is smart enough to acknowledge Lilia’s distaste for that look — with a reminder last week when they started a FaceTime video call and she hung up when seeing it — and shaved it before she returned to St. Petersburg Monday.

“It got really red, and it did not look great,” he said. “So I picked her up from the airport (Monday) night, and it was gone by the time I got there. So, RIP to my mustache.”

Compared to teammates such as Tyler Alexander and Zach Eflin, Pepiot admitted he didn’t measure up anyway.

“I didn’t have anything close to that, so it’s OK,” he said. “It was the best effort I could pull, but it failed. It was a fail.”

Though Pepiot hasn’t pitched in a game since being knocked out in the third inning of the May 5 game when he was struck on the lower left leg by a 107.5-mph line drive, he and the Rays are confident he is good to go and did not need to make a rehab start.

That was based on a bullpen session Friday in Toronto, where Pepiot simulated throwing three innings with coaches Kyle Snyder and Tomas Francisco standing at the plate and clocking as high as 95 mph.

“It was what, 15 days? So, basically, just like missing two starts kind of, so there wasn’t really a lot of factors into (making a rehab start),” Pepiot said. “It was a lot of just based on when I did touch the mound and how it felt and how it responded. … I went out there (in Toronto), did my three (simulated innings), did my sit down and do nothing in between. ... It didn’t tighten up, it was perfectly fine.”

Manager Kevin Cash said the Rays will watch Pepiot (3-2, 3.68) closely to see how he responds to game intensity but go in expecting around five innings.

To make room for Pepiot on the active roster, the Rays are expected to designate for assignment reliever Erasmo Ramirez.

On the plus side

The Rays’ one win Tuesday was ending Rafael Devers’ streak of consecutive games with a homer at a Red Sox-record six, as they held him to a first-inning single in three at-bats and intentionally walked him in the eighth. The major-league mark is eight, shared by Dale Long, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey Jr. Six players had streaks of homering in seven straight games: Jim Thome, Barry Bonds, Kevin Mench, Kendrys Morales, Joey Votto and Mike Trout.

Welcome addition

Lefty reliever Richard Lovelady worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning Monday in his first Rays appearance after being acquired from the Cubs, where he had a 7.94 ERA over seven outings. Cash said there was a lot to like.

“He looked good, came in and threw strikes,” Cash said. “You see some deceptiveness to the delivery.

“I like to think some of the things that our front office does that are really good is they’re able to overlook some surface numbers and the surface line, and realize if the guy’s featuring good stuff things are going to turn for him. Maybe his first outing with us may be his best outing of the year so far, and continue that.”


Right-hander Angel Sanchez, a 34-year-old who pitched for Pittsburgh in 2017 and spent most of the last six years in Korea and Japan, was signed out of the Mexican league to provide depth at Triple-A Durham. He started Tuesday, and worked six shutout innings. Shane Baz, who was slated for his fourth rehab start, will pitch Wednesday. ... Yandy Diaz didn’t start Tuesday, but pinch-hit in the sixth and stayed in. … Viola Baras, a 96-year-old Holocaust survivor, is slated to throw out a ceremonial first pitch on Wednesday on behalf of The Florida Holocaust Museum. Her son, Dr. David Baras, threw out a pitch before a 2015 game. ... Lefty Tyler Alexander, coming off his 7⅓-inning bid for perfection last Friday, is expected to work the bulk of the innings Friday, either starting or behind an opener. … Infielder Taylor Walls (hip surgery) began a rehab assignment Tuesday with the Florida Complex League team.

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