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Rays Brad Boxberger now very unlikely for opening day

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger looks to cover first base on a drill during a spring training workout at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte on Feb. 16.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger looks to cover first base on a drill during a spring training workout at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte on Feb. 16.

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March

Rays manager Kevin Cash confirmed this morning what has seemed increasingly obvious, that RHP Brad Boxberger is not likely to be ready for opening day.

Boxberger has been bothered by a strain in his back/lat area, which has not responded as they had hoped. He has yet to pitch in a spring game, and has now been scratched from a planned Tuesday game.

So while not totally ruling Boxberger out for the April 2 opener, Cash said: "I just don't see how it's going to happen. I'm not saying it won't, but it's very tough for me - where are we at, the 20th? Realistically, key piece in our bullpen, we're going to do right by him and want him to get his innings and reps. It's going to be very difficult to do that.''

The Rays are counting heavily on Boxberger to regain his 2014-15 form and join closer Alex Colome as part of a bullpen dynamic duo. Boxberger missed much of last season with injuries, and reported to camp lighter and saying he was healthy, but was slowed by the soreness that he said it not arm-related.

"The lat is just not responding the way he feels or we feel it needs to so we'll take another couple days and revisit it here again,'' Cash said.

With Boxberger unlikely and RHP Shawn Tolleson working back from back issues of his own, the Rays will face some interesting decisions in setting up their bullpen.

A big part of that could now by RHP Jumbo Diaz, who is expected in Port Charlotte on Tuesday after being claimed from the Reds during his stint with the Dominican team in the World Basseball Classic.

"We're anxious to see him, simply because we've got decisions to make especially with some of the bullpen question marks,'' Cash said. "He's going to come in and put himself right into contention for those last couple spots. We need to get him here and get him pitching.''

Prospects Jaime Schultz and Austin Pruitt are among other candidates that could now have a better chance.

 

 

[Last modified: Monday, March 20, 2017 10:26am]

    

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