Rays place Yarbrough on COVID-19 IL, activate Arozarena

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

BOSTON – The Tampa Bay Rays placed left-handed pitcher Ryan Yarbrough on the COVID-19 injured list on Tuesday.

Manager Kevin Cash said Yarbrough, who was with the Rays over the weekend during a three-game sweep at Baltimore, did not join the club in Boston for a three-game series that opened Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

“He’s fine. Probably best not to go any deeper than that,” Cash said before Tuesday’s game. “We probably should just wait for more updates in the coming days and we’ll go from there.”

Cash said he was hopeful that the Rays could get Yarbrough (6-4, 4.76 ERA) back soon.

“I’d like to think that if we get through this turn and get through the rotation, that we should be talking having Yarbs back at that time, but still there’s a lot to be learned here in the next few days,” Cash said.

Yarbrough last pitched Friday, when he allowed five runs on nine hits in five innings before the Rays beat the Orioles 10-6.

With Yarbrough temporarily out of the rotation, Cash wasn’t certain who would start Wednesday night in the second game at Boston. He said the Rays could go with an “opener” to pitch the first couple of innings, then turn it over to the bullpen, or possibly start lefty Josh Fleming.

The Rays also activated outfielder Randy Arozarena from the COVID-19 injured list Tuesday and had him batting leadoff. Tampa Bay also recalled RHP Louis Head from Triple-A Durham on Tuesday and placed right-handed reliever DJ Johnson on the 10-day IL, retroactive to Monday.

The team described Johnson’s injury as a right shoulder sprain but Cash indicated it could be worse. Johnson was added in a trade with Cleveland on July 30.

“I think it’s pretty severe. We’re getting some second opinions. He’s going to miss some time – substantial time,” Cash said. “We’ll wait for other doctors to look at it, but he’s not going to be throwing a baseball any time soon.”

Johnson spent most of the season at Triple-A Columbus, going 1-2 with six saves and a 3.32 ERA in 21 relief appearances.

Astros star Altuve has surgery on broken thumb, a WBC injury

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros star Jose Altuve had surgery Wednesday on his broken right thumb, an injury that occurred in the World Baseball Classic and will significantly delay the second baseman’s 2023 debut.

The Astros announced that the 32-year-old Altuve had the procedure done in Houston and will stay there to begin his rehabilitation, with only one week left in spring training. The Astros will fly there on Sunday following their final Grapefruit League game in Florida, before playing a pair of exhibitions against their Triple-A team, the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, in Texas.

Altuve was hit by a pitch on Saturday while playing for Venezuela in the WBC. He might not be ready to return to the lineup until at least late May. The eight-time All-Star and 2017 American League MVP batted .300 with 103 runs, 28 homers and 18 steals for the World Series champion Astros last season. Mauricio Dubón and David Hensley are the leading candidates to fill in for Altuve at second base.

Altuve isn’t the only Major League Baseball star who was hurt in WBC play, of course. Mets closer Edwin Díaz will miss the 2023 season because of a torn patellar tendon in his right knee as the freak result of an on-field celebration following a WBC win by the Puerto Rico national team.


The Astros also scratched right-hander Hunter Brown from his scheduled start Wednesday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Manager Dusty Baker told reporters that Brown, who is ranked by MLB as the organization’s top prospect and competing for the last spot in the rotation, has discomfort in his lower back.


The New York Mets sent catcher Francisco Álvarez to Triple-A Syracuse, quashing for now the possibility of putting the prized 21-year-old on the opening day roster.

Álvarez, who made his major league debut with the Mets near the end of last season, had just three hits in 28 at-bats in Grapefruit League exhibition games. Ranked by MLB as the third-best prospect in baseball, Álvarez batted .260 with 27 homers and 78 RBIs in a combined 112 minor league games in 2022 at Double-A and Triple-A.

The Mets have newcomer Omar Narváez, a 2021 All-Star with the Milwaukee Brewers, as their primary catcher with Tomás Nido likely to play mostly against left-handed pitchers.

Speaking of the Mets, Díaz turned 29 on Wednesday – a rather subdued milestone for the right-hander considering his situation. Diaz nonetheless posted in Spanish an upbeat message on his Twitter account, thanking God for another year of life and describing his health as good and his outlook as positive in this initial stage of the roughly eight-month rehabilitation process.