By Josh Vitale, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Tampa Bay Rays No. 2 prospect Brent Honeywell will miss his next turn in the Charlotte Stone Crabs rotation with “right arm tenderness,” manager Michael Johns said Thursday.
Honeywell, who allowed two runs on five hits five innings while throwing a full compliment of pitches (98) in his last start on Monday, would have been on track to pitch in Saturday’s game against Jupiter.
“It’s somewhere around the elbow,” Johns said of the tenderness in Honeywell’s arm, “but it’s nothing major. There are no red flags. He feels good. But we are precautionary for a reason. And if it means him missing a start, it means him missing a start.”
Honeywell didn’t want to comment on the nature of the injury, but said he felt fine and didn’t think anything serious was wrong. Through seven starts this season, the right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.30 ERA and a Florida State League-high 46 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings.
Yonny Chirinos, who was promoted from Low-A Bowling Green on Thursday to replace veteran right-hander Neil Wagner, will take Honeywell’s turn in the rotation on Saturday.
Chirinos started the season in the Stone Crabs bullpen before being sent to Bowling Green to be stretched out. In four games (two starts) for the Hot Rods, the right-hander went 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA.
Wagner, who allowed a run on one hit over 5 2/3 innings for Charlotte while consistently hitting 95 mph on the radar gun, was sent up to Triple-A Durham as he continues to work his way back from August 2014 Tommy John surgery.
IN OTHER (INJURY) NEWS
Right-handed reliever Brandon Koch, the Rays’ No. 17 prospect, is getting closer to returning from a bout of right arm tenderness that has sidelined him since April 23.
Johns said he will throw a side session in the next few days and should only need a one or two rehab appearances in extended spring training before he can be added back to the Stone Crabs bullpen. …
Infielder Andrew Velazquez (hamstring) is also nearing a return, having played two straight games in extended spring training.
Because speed is such a big part of his game, and because his hamstring has given him trouble before, Johns said the Rays minor league training staff wants to make sure he can play two full days pain-free before they think about letting him make his season debut with Charlotte.
“The hamstring is one of those things that can keep occurring. And his has. So we’re trying to do everything we can to make sure it won’t,” Johns said. That includes having Velazquez sit on the bench for a while and pinch-running to see how the hamstring holds up.
Johns said he watched Velazquez play in an extended spring game on Thursday and said the infielder “looked fine.”
“He’s getting there. He’s playing in games, he’s running hard,” Johns said. “So all the things he needs to do to get back with us, he’s doing.”