Cash, Rays have rotation decision to make

Boxberger to face Minor League hitters starting Friday

Cash, Rays have rotation decision to make

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays' rotation will remain as is through the upcoming road series against the Angels. After that, the team is mulling over its options.

"We're still kind of discussing [whether to go with a five-man rotation]," Cash said. "We have an option that we can stay on five-man or pull back again and get two more times through [with a four-man rotation], then we would need a fifth starter. We haven't quite decided which way we're going to go yet."

Cash did allow that the team would likely need a fifth starter once they hit Seattle, which is the second leg of the coming road trip.

Erasmo Ramirez could dictate whether the Rays have to call up a starter against Seattle on May 10. If Ramirez is not used a lot in the games leading up to that one, he could get the start. If not, the Rays could have a bullpen day or call up a starter.

Also to be decided is whether Ramirez is permanently in the starting rotation or remains in the bullpen once the Rays expand to a five-man rotation.

"I think we knew that once we went to a four-man rotation, we knew that we were going to use Erasmo in some pretty high-leveraged situations," Cash said. "I don't think any of us could have said he'd be pitching this well at this point. Not discounting him at all, he's just been unbelievable.

"I don't know how we'll continue to factor that in. It's a good argument or discussion to have. Where is there more value in Erasmo? What he's doing right now or back in that fifth starter role?"

Brad Boxberger (abductor surgery) threw his last bullpen on Tuesday, throwing approximately 30 pitches off a mound, including fastballs, changeups and sliders.

The Rays reliever will face Minor League hitters in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Friday and Monday while the team is on the road.

"It's getting there," Boxberger said. "Getting to the fun part, being able to throw off the mound. Being able to work on what I'm here to work on and get better."

Boxberger, who led the American League in saves with 41 in 2015, said he has not suffered any setbacks in his rehab thus far. He expects to be back with the team by mid-May.

"Just getting my arm in shape," Boxberger said. "Everything is going well."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.