ST. PETERSBURG — With injuries continuing to impact their pitching staff, the Rays turned to Luis Patino, the hard-throwing right-hander acquired from San Diego in the Blake Snell trade.
Patino, 21, was added to the taxi squad Saturday and activated to be the opener Sunday against the Blue Jays. Lefty Josh Fleming will work the bulk of the innings.
“We’re probably going to find ways now to be a little bit creative, try to give different looks,” manager Kevin Cash said before Saturday’s game.
He made it quite clear they were excited to see what Patino can do.
“We know he’s got a lot of talent,” Cash said. “He’s a continued work in progress, shaping his breaking ball and his changeup, but the fastball, he’s got a good one.”
The Rays on Saturday also reinstated reliever Diego Castillo from the COVID-19-related injury list after he missed Friday’s game due to side effects from a vaccine; placed reliever Chris Mazza on the 10-day injured list due to right shoulder inflammation; and designated for assignment catcher Deivy Grullon to open a 40-man roster spot to reinstate Castillo. They had already added reliever Louis Head on Friday.
Patino made his debut last season for the Padres, working 11 games (one start) and three more in the postseason. He has been working on a starter’s schedule at the Rays’ alternate training camp in Port Charlotte, throwing four innings on Monday.
“I feel really good,” he said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “I’m taking in all the confidence that I got from the offseason work and then leading up to spring training, and all the work that I did there with the team, and then preparing in my training that I do now. I’m ready to help out the team in any way I can.”
Patino is also excited because his parents are coming from their native Colombia to see him pitch in the majors for the first time; they were unable to attend games last year.
“Making my debut last year was special,” he said. “But I think this year will be very special in the sense that last year when I debuted I couldn’t call anybody to show up the stadium. ... Mentally it’s good to know that people are going to be around — family are going to be around — and I’m prepared to just go out there and do something special.”
Fleming said the contrast of his location and movement style and Patino’s power game should be “very effective” in providing different looks.
“I think it’s going to really kind of throw the Blue Jays for a loop. Just two different styles of pitching,” Fleming said. “I think it’s going to be very difficult (Sunday) for the Blue Jays.”
Here is the Rays lineup:
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