Blake Snell hoping to be ready for Opening Day following elbow soreness

Blake Snell and Kevan Smith
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Rays starter Blake Snell told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he’s hopeful he’ll be ready for the start of the season following a bout of soreness in his elbow. The former Cy Young Award winner received a cortisone shot following his first outing of spring training this past Wednesday, when he reported his discomfort to the team.

Snell underwent a procedure last July to remove bone chips from his elbow and it’s possible that this recent soreness is a residual effect of the surgery. Rays manager Kevin Cash told the Times yesterday that the trouble is in the outer part of Snell’s elbow, which means that there isn’t any concern about his UCL. A CT scan showed that there aren’t any new bone chips.

The left-hander is throwing again and says that he feels “great so the Rays might be out of the woods, but Snell wouldn’t commit to being ready to go on Opening Day just yet.

The Rays have no shortage of pitching depth in the event that Snell is unable to pitch at the start of the season. Last year’s trade for Trevor Richards provides the most immediate option to slide into the rotation, but Tampa Bay also has Brendan McKay, Anthony Banda and Jalen Beeks waiting in the wings. Former top prospect Brent Honeywell has only just started throwing as he recovers from a series of injuries, so the screwball specialist is likely still a ways away.

Snell was limited to just 107 innings last year because of the bone chips, but he’s still a formidable talent when healthy. The Rays may have the pitching to cushion any possible absence for him, but he’s still Blake Snell. They want him on the mound early and often, especially with the AL East shaping up to be a grueling slugfest with the Yankees.

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