Tampa Bay did some roster shuffling, designating first baseman Dan Johnson for assignment and optioning reliever Rob Delaney back to Triple-A while calling up outfielder Justin Ruggiano and activating reliever J.P. Howell from the disabled list.
Howell’s return is the most interesting development, as he had back-to-back impressive seasons as a reliever before blowing out his shoulder, posting a 2.48 ERA and 171 strikeouts in 156 innings between 2008 and 2009.
If healthy Howell could further boost a bullpen that ranks fourth among AL teams with a 3.20 ERA despite losing Rafael Soriano, Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, and Dan Wheeler to free agency.
Johnson showed good plate discipline and power for the Rays, but hit just .168 in 75 games dating back to last season and gave way to Casey Kotchman as the primary first baseman. Ruggiano returns to the majors for the first time since 2008 and at 29 years old is no longer a prospect, but he could be a solid contributor in a platoon role if spotted mostly versus left-handed pitching.
CINCINNATI — The Los Angeles Dodgers placed pitcher Noah Syndergaard on the 15-day injured list Thursday with a blister on the index finger of his right throwing hand.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the timetable for Syndergaard’s return is unknown despite the 15-day designation.
“The physical, the mental, the emotional part, as he’s talked about, has taken a toll on him,” Roberts said. “So, the ability to get him away from this. He left today to go back to Los Angeles to kind of get back to normalcy.”
Syndergaard allowed six runs and seven hits in three innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night, raising his ERA to 7.16.
Syndergaard (1-4) has surrendered at least five runs in three straight starts.
Syndergaard has been trying to return to the player he was before Tommy John surgery sidelined him for the better part of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
Roberts said Syndergaard will need at least “a few weeks” to both heal and get away from baseball and “reset.”
“I think searching and not being comfortable with where he was at in the moment is certainly evident in performance,” Roberts said. “So hopefully this time away will provide more clarity on who he is right now as a pitcher.
“Trying to perform when you’re searching at this level is extremely difficult. I applaud him from not running from it, but it’s still very difficult. Hopefully it can be a tale of two stories, two halves when he does come back.”