Utility man Robertson activated, while Featherston goes to Triple-A
By Connor Mount
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays made a pair of roster adjustments Friday before their opener against the Brewers at Tropicana Field, activating infielder Daniel Robertson from the disabled list and calling up reliever Jose Alvarado, while left-hander Blake Snell and infielder Taylor Featherston were optioned to Triple-A Durham.
Tampa Bay just finished an eight-game road trip that taxed the bullpen. Almost four relievers were used on a per-game average during the trip, counting backup catcher Jesus Sucre, who mopped up in the opener against the Astros.
"We've used our bullpen quite heavily here to win these last couple ballgames, and we needed to clean it up," Cash said. "We need innings. We don't want to overexpose anybody and risk any injury to our bullpen. They're going to be pretty valuable to us going forward."
Alvarado made an instant impact in his return to the Majors, throwing an immaculate inning in the ninth inning of the Rays' 2-0 loss to the Brewers on Friday.
Aside from the break for the bullpen, the addition of Alvarado is also meant for Snell to work on some things in Triple-A.
"I think it's fair to say it's both," Cash said. "The bullpen's a priority, there's no doubt. We can't use some of these guys that we've been using so much. That's why we have [Ryne] Stanek, that's why we have Alvarado tonight. But Blake could definitely benefit from going down there and continuing to work on things."
In six starts since rejoining the Rays on June 28, Snell had a 5.34 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings pitched.
Robertson hit ninth and started at shortstop against the Brewers on Friday. The utility man will likely see action across the infield moving forward.
"The versatility to play second, short and third at a really high level is going to help us," Cash said. "Glad that he's healthy, that he's feeling better. The neck is totally recovered. We need to be able to have a guy in there that can give [Adeiny] Hechavarria a day off. [Hechavarria] is about as athletic as any shortstop as you'll see. He covers a lot of ground. Saying that, he needs some days off."
Robertson said he spent the first part of the season playing through the symptoms of a nerve flareup in his neck under the base of his skull. Once doctors inserted a needle into the area, the result was instant relief, he said.
"It disappeared after they went in with the shot in that nerve," Robertson said. "From then on, the symptoms were gone. I felt good. It was just a matter of getting my body back ready to play."
The Rays' clubhouse looks very different from when Robertson went on the disabled list, so after he introduces himself to all of Tampa Bay's additions, he said he looks forward to pitching in to the playoff chase in any way he can.
"Just trying to keep a clear mindset of not trying to do too much, but kind of just fit right in with the flow of what's going on here," Robertson said.
Connor Mount is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.