What does Manny’s retirement mean for the Rays?

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Manny Ramirez’s retirement has sent shockwaves through the baseball world, but it’s also left a pretty big hole in the middle of the Rays’ projected lineup.

The Rays took a calculated risk by signing Ramirez this winter, but despite his lack of production with the White Sox down the stretch last season, he still batted .298/.409/.460 with an .870 OPS over 320 plate appearances for the entire year. It was a worthwhile risk to take, especially at the bargain basement price of $2 million. Of course, the Rays are no longer responsible for his salary now that he has chosen to retire, but that doesn’t make his abrupt exit any easier to swallow.

Entering play Friday, the Rays have scored just eight runs over their first six games. They haven’t had a lead once. And they are expected to be without their best hitter Evan Longoria for at least the next two weeks with an oblique injury. They’re in deep trouble offensively, at least in the short-term.

The easy and most exciting impluse would be to call up top prospect Desmond Jennings from Triple-A Durham and stick him in left field, moving Johnny Damon to designated hitter. Then again, it’s in the best interests of the franchise for the long-term to delay his service time for a little while longer, so we probably won’t see him until some time after Memorial Day.

Following the announcement of Ramirez’s retirement, the Rays called up Casey Kotchman from Triple-A Durham, who will be the regular first baseman moving forward. Dan Johnson will become the primary designated hitter while Johnny Damon will remain in left field.

Swapping Kotchman for Ramirez is hardly exciting, but more than anything, it’s an indication that the Rays now know they don’t have the best chance to contend this season.

Kyle Freeland placed on injured list due to blister

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Starter Kyle Freeland has been placed on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to April 19) due to a blister on his left middle finger, the Rockies announced. Tyler Anderson was activated from the 10-day injured list and will start Monday night against the Nationals.

Freeland, 25, posted a 4.23 ERA with a 30/10 K/BB ratio in 27 2/3 innings across five starts to open the 2019 season. In his most recent start, the lefty tossed six shutout innings against the Phillies but wasn’t able to go out for the seventh inning due to the blister.

Anderson, 29, made two starts before left knee inflammation sidelined him. He has thus far yielded 11 runs on 18 hits and three walks with five strikeouts in nine innings.