ST. PETERSBURG – RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo will finally join the Rays bullpen Tuesday.
Oviedo, who had 92 saves in three seasons with the Marlins when he was known as Leo Nunez, is expected to add another power arm to the back of the bullpen.
“I’m really, really eager to get him up here,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s going to make this bullpen thicker.”
Oviedo has not pitched in a major league game since Sept. 21, 2011. He was placed on the restricted list the following day because of visa issues stemming from his use of a false identity. He missed nearly four months of the 2012 while dealing with the visa issue then served an eight-week suspension handed down by MLB for age and identity fraud.
While pitching his way back into shape in the Marlins minor league system, Oviedo suffered an injury to his right elbow that required Tommy John surgery.
The Rays signed him to a minor league deal before the 2013 season in hopes he would return to the major leagues last September and eventually replace RHP Fernando Rodney as the closer. Those plans were squashed when Oviedo suffered a setback last September.
Oviedo’s start to this season was delayed by more visa issues. He began the season on the disabled list to give him time to get in shape for the regular season.
Moore surgery today
LHP Matt Moore is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery Tuesday in Pensacola.
The surgery will be performed by Dr. James Andrews, he performed the same surgery on Oviedo and LHP Jake McGee.
Moore is expected to be sidelined 12-to-15 months while he completes his rehab.
As each round of cuts were made this past March, Maddon would talk about how the team was sending a major league-quality reliever back to Triple A Durham.
If the work of LHP Jeff Beliveau, RHP Brad Boxberger and LHP C.J. Riefenhauser is any indication, Maddon was right.
Beliveau has thrown a perfect inning in each of his two stints. Boxberger has allowed one hit and struck out four in four innings. Riefenhauser retired the four batters he faced Saturday during his major league debut before running into some tough luck Sunday.
“And (T.J.) Yates is still down there. (Adam) Liberatore, there’s others,” Maddon said. “Truly, we have that kind of quality relief pitching at our minor league Triple A team. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. Back in the day with the Angels, whatever. I’ve never seen that kind of group that are major league ready at Triple A at the same time. And that you feel good about.”
That’s why Maddon had enough confidence Sunday in Riefenhauser to allow the rookie to walk CF Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases in the 12th inning of a 1-1 game in order to set up a more favorable matchup with SS Dean Anna.
“It’s not like it’s a reach,” Maddon said. “It’s not like you bring them up and say, ‘I hope he does it.’ You really believe he’s going to do well. They’re all good-stuff, good-makeup guys. They’re all that.”
Former Rays OF Sam Fuld is expected to make his debut as a member of the Twins during this series ... The Rays lost by four runs during Sunday’s 12-inning game. They Rays lost two extra-inning games by four runs in 2013 ... RHP Josh Lueke has allowed six of his seven inherited runners to score ... SS Yunel Escobar recorded his 500 career hit Sunday.