Pearce close to returning to Rays' lineup

Pearce close to returning to Rays' lineup

MINNEAPOLIS -- All of the injured Rays are making progress, beginning with Steve Pearce, who is still nursing tendinitis in his right elbow.

On Thursday night, Pearce came off the bench as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning and came through with a pinch-hit single. However, the Rays are still hoping to keep Pearce off the field as much as possible for the time being to give his elbow as much time as possible to heal. Pearce said Friday that he is feeling much better.

Initially, Pearce might be used as the designated hitter to get his bat back into the lineup.

"I think he is getting closer," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Last night we pinch-hit him and he felt OK. He's still getting treatment. But probably out of the gate, the quicker we can get him back, and if it is DHing, that would help."

Kevin Kiermaier had the stitches removed from his fractured left hand on Friday in St. Petersburg. That is significant because he can now begin some activity.

On Saturday, Kiermaier will begin that activity by doing range-of-motion exercises.

Second baseman Logan Forsythe (hairline fracture, left shoulder blade) took batting practice in the cage on Friday for the first time since his injury. The Rays expect him to be back playing with the team at some point during the next homestand, which begins June 10 against the Astros and concludes on June 19 against the Giants.

Right-handers Alex Cobb and Chase Whitley (both coming off Tommy John surgery) will throw bullpen sessions Saturday and right-hander Ryan Webb (right pectoral strain) is scheduled to play catch for the first time since being place on the DL on May 30.

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