By Josh Vitale, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Injured Tampa Bay Rays closer Brad Boxberger made his first official rehab appearance as he works his way back from March core muscle repair surgery on Sunday, throwing a scoreless first inning in a start for the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs.
The right-hander gave up a leadoff double and two-out walk but stranded both runners, inducing a flyout, 5-3 groundout and swining strikeout on a 92-mph fastball up in the zone. He threw 14 of his 24 pitches for strikes.
“It was good to get through this one leaving those guys out there,” Boxberger said. “It’s kind of like spring training for me, because I didn’t really have one this year. It’s about getting my pitch count up, being able to get my arm in shape, and just repeating my delivery and getting a feel for it again.”
It was Boxberger’s second time back on the mound since the surgery. He allowed two hits and a walk while striking out two over 2/3 of a scoreless frame in an extended spring training game on Thursday.
Boxberger, who led the American League with 41 saves last year, said he will make another rehab appearance with the Stone Crabs after a few days off, then will head to Durham to make two or three more.
The right-hander said he wants to pitch on back-to-back days with the Triple-A Bulls at least once before getting activated from the disabled list to make sure his arm and body are used to recovering quickly.
“I feel really good with where I am right now,” said Boxberger, who is on track to rejoin the Rays before the end of May. “It’s only going to get better from here.”