Cork Gaines over at Rays Index raised a valid point yesterday concerning RHP Jeff Niemann. Namely, the fact that he hasn't pitched since April 18th and not at all since being demoted to Triple A Durham. In an April 18th start against the Chicago White Sox, Niemann gave up eight runs in 3.1 innings of work and was subsequently optioned to Durham to make room in the rotation for RHP Matt Garza, who was returning from injury.
Yet since the April 20th demotion, Niemann hasn't been seen in game action for the Bulls. Further compounding the confusion is the lack of details regarding what, exactly, Niemann is sidelined with. Alternating reports have it as arm soreness or back soreness, but Niemann's return has continually been pushed back no matter the ailment. At first we heard rumors about him starting Thursday, and then this Saturday, but both dates passed without the big righty taking the hill. Hopefully the matter is nothing serious, and ManBearPig will return to the hill soon, but the lack of information on the matter has to be nerve-racking for Rays fans.
Some other notes:
- The focus of Marc Topkin's notebook this morning? The Rays' starting pitching was terrible this weekend in Boston, and that fact might have played a tiny role in the team's having been swept. More importantly, Topkin notes that CF B.J. Upton returned to the lineup in yesterday's game, but still wasn't able to swing freely. Upton, who strained his left shoulder in Thursday afternoon's game against the Baltimore Orioles, said he felt no pain in swinging, however. Upton should get a chance to fully heal with an off day tomorrow and ten succeeding games in domed stadiums, a big improvement from yesterday's frigid conditions in Boston.
- Also, RHP Gary Glover flew back to St. Petersburg and has begun to rehab from the shoulder tendinitis that landed him on the DL Friday.
- Lastly, Marc Lancaster of the Tribune expands upon what R.J. posted earlier about RHP Evan Meek. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who claimed Meek in the Rule 5 draft from Tampa Bay in the off-season, designated him for assignment on Sunday. He will pass through waivers, but any team claiming him must keep him on the major league roster for the duration of the season, something Pittsburgh has already failed to do. If no team wants to take that plunge, Meek would have to be offered back to the Rays for $25,000, half of the Pirates' original investment. Then again, as Lancaster notes, the Pirates could acquire his rights from the Rays through a trade that would enable them to send him to the minor leagues. As appealing as that 6.92 ERA must be to potential claimants, I'm going to guess that Meek will end up in the minor league system when this is all said and done. Whose minor league system? That remains to be seen.