ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays designated righty reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo for assignment Saturday afternoon to make room for Jeremy Hellickson, who was called up from Class A Advanced Charlotte to start Saturday night’s game against the Red Sox.
“Not easy,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Oviedo, we had rehabbed him for a long time after he had been hurt. He’d shown some really good moments this season. It was not an easy choice, actually. But one thing we do have is bullpen arms, whether it’s here or in the Minor Leagues.”
The Rays bringing Hellickson back for Saturday’s game had been the plan all along — the only question was who the right-hander would replace.
After offseason surgery, Hellickson made his first start of the year just before the All-Star break, and the Rays wanted to make sure he continued to get work. So they sent him to the Minors, where he made two starts, lining him up for Saturday night against Boston.
The Rays had several options for who to move with Hellickson coming back — for example, veteran lefty Erik Bedard. Bedard has barely pitched since moving from the fifth-starter role — Hellickson’s slot — to being a long man in the bullpen. But Maddon said Bedard gives the team an emergency starter if the need arises.
This season, Oviedo had a 3-3 record, a 3.69 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings over 32 appearances for Tampa Bay.
“He’s gonna pitch for somebody else,” Maddon said. “And given the opportunity, he has a chance to pitch really well during the rest of this season. There’s nothing wrong with him at all, except that he just needs more opportunity, I think. Probably the only negative with him would be command overall, but stuff-wise, his stuff was good.”
• Reliever Joel Peralta made a rehab appearance Saturday for Charlotte against the Dunedin Blue Jays. He allowed one hit and struck out one in one scoreless inning. Peralta (illness) is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday.
• Four years ago Saturday, Matt Garza threw the only no-hitter in Rays history. It came against the Tigers at Tropicana Field. Garza faced the minimum, walked one batter, who was erased on a double play, and struck out six.
• Ben Zobrist recorded three infield hits in his first three at-bats in Friday’s series opener against the Red Sox, the first time he has had three infield hits in a game in his nine-year career.