Rays working on a deal to sign lefty reliever Jake Diekman
BALTIMORE — The Rays are working to finalize a deal with veteran lefty reliever Jake Diekman.
The Rays are looking to replace lefty Garrett Cleavinger, who is headed for season-ending knee surgery after an injury in Sunday’s game. Diekman, 36, will get the first shot, expected to join them Wednesday or Thursday.
Diekman was designated for assignment and released last week by the White Sox, having compiled a 0-1 record with a 7.94 ERA over 13 games. He has pitched parts of 12 seasons in the majors, debuting in 2012 with the Phillies and also pitching for the Rangers, Diamondbacks, Royals, A’s, Red Sox and White Sox.
If the Rays can get him back to past form, Diekman can bring some welcomed swing-and-miss capability to the bullpen. From 2012-22, he averaged 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings, but only 8.7 so far this season. Control has also been as issue, as he has walked 13 in 11⅓ innings.
The signing is a low-risk financial move by the Rays, as they are responsible for only a prorated share of the major-league minimum $720,000, with the White Sox responsible for the rest of his $3.5 million salary.
The Rays have two other lefties in the pen, Jalen Beeks and Colin Poche.
Double trouble times three
Yandy Diaz had a rough night, taking a rare called third strike in his first at-bat then — around a fifth-inning single that extended his on-base streak to 11 games and his hitting streak to six — grounding into a team-record-tying three double plays. Diaz is the third Rays batter to do so, joining Javier Valentin (June 17, 2003) and Ben Zobrist (Aug. 12, 2000). ... With Taylor Walls also hitting into a double play, the Rays’ total of four was their most since April 6, 2017.
The Lowe down
Josh Lowe’s seven homers seem to be one of the bigger surprises of the season, except to him.
“I expect that out of myself,” he said. “I put in the work in the offseason. I feel like I’ve game-planned well. And now it’s just time to go out there and just play baseball and do what I need to do.”
Lowe has said the biggest difference between last season, when he struggled for most of two stints with the Rays, and this one is being more comfortable around the team and, as a result, more confident.
“Just relaxed and putting good swings on pitches that I need to hit out of the park, and I’m doing it,” he said. “Just feeling good right now.”
He also said that his power surge, like that of many of his teammates — resulting in their MLB-leading 73 homers — is the result of being more selective at the plate.
“If you kind of break down a lot of homers, it’s really pitches that are middle of the plate,” he said. “You’re looking for a good pitch to hit, so if we’re going up there looking for good pitches to hit, good things are going to happen. We’re just not missing them right now, so it’s pretty cool to see.”
Lefty Jalen Beeks will be the opener on Wednesday, with right-hander Yonny Chirinos expected to work bulk innings. ... Randy Arozarena drew a first-inning walk to extend his on-base streak to 20 games, but his hitting streak ended at nine. ... Cash said he had “no problem” with Arozarena getting picked off in the first. Because Orioles starter Grayson Rodriguez had already thrown over the maximum two times, the Rays want runners to try to be aggressive then. ... Tyler Glasnow, sidelined since a Feb. 27 oblique strain, on Wednesday will make his second rehab start, pitching for Triple-A Durham at Charlotte, slated for four innings or 60 pitches. ... Reliever Pete Fairbanks, on the injured list with forearm inflammation, will throw for Durham on Friday, aiming to rejoin the Rays when eligible Tuesday. ...
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