ST. PETERSBURG — Rays right-hander Yonny Chirinos, out since Aug. 5 with right middle finger inflammation, was activated Saturday and worked one relief inning against the Red Sox.
That figures to be the ease-him-back tempo for the return of Chirinos, a workhorse who pitched at least six innings in 10 of his 17 starts this season.
“Regardless of the role I’m in, I’ll just do what I can to help us make the playoffs,’’ the native of Venezuela said through an interpreter. “These games are super important. Each game could determine whether we clinch or not.
“Right now, I’m out of the bullpen. I can’t think about the (starting) rotation at this point.’’
Chirinos entered in the fourth and surrendered a solo home run to Boston’s Xander Bogaerts on his second pitch. He got swinging strikeouts from J.D. Martinez and Mitch Moreland before retiring Brock Holt on a liner to third.
“We’re excited to have him back,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “He has been a big part of our season. It’s a little different than Blake (Snell) and Tyler (Glasnow), and it’s fair to say we’re not going to be able to stretch him out to what he was (as a starter).
“Certainly, he can be a big weapon opening a game for us or coming out of the bullpen. He has shown he’s capable of doing that.’’
All-Star second baseman Brandon Lowe, out since July 2 with a shin injury, could be activated as soon as Sunday. On Saturday, Lowe had a productive Instructional League game in Port Charlotte. Lowe said he played four innings, collecting a pair of hits and a walk. He also had several successful chances at second base.
“He’s close,’’ Cash said. “I saw a video (of Lowe running) first to third. He’s running a lot better. You don’t see him basically thinking about running.
“The at-bats have been really good. The defense has been fine. Just running, getting out of the box, you have to be able to have enough trust in him to manage that. In the situations where you think you can stretch out a hit, you’re not going to be able to do that for some time.’’
Lowe said he hopes he’s activated soon.
“I feel I’m ready to go,’’ he said. “I’m kind of waiting to hear what’s next.’’
Yarbrough looks to rebound
Left-hander Ryan Yarbrough (11-4, 3.78 ERA), who is starting Sunday, is seeking a rebound from his most recent outing (six earned runs in five innings against the Angels on Sept. 15). It was Yarbrough’s first defeat since June 13 after going 6-0 in his previous 15 appearances (seven starts).
“I feel like it’s a big thing for me not to do too much,’’ Yarbrough said. “If I do that, things can get going haywire. It’s not going to be a lot of power. It’s finesse, keeping them off-balance, doing what I need to do.’’
The Ozzie Timmons phenomenon rolls on. The first-base coach who does dugout pushups to mirror the quantity of runs scored by the Rays was the subject of a T-shirt caricature, “Ozzie’s Gym.’’ It was distributed and worn by players in the pregame clubhouse. The shirt (Simmons shows it off at right) will be sold at the Rays’ team store. The shirt shows Timmons lifting a barbell with a healthy smattering of sunflower seeds on the floor. When Timmons does his pushup routine, he’s often sprinkled by a shower of seeds.
• Outfielder Avisail Garcia, who left Friday’s game with what was described as an illness,’ wasn’t in Saturday’s lineup. Cash said that Garcia was “still a little light-headed and a little dizzy. He’s better than (Friday), which is encouraging. I think (he’s) a little sick, and it came out of nowhere.’’
• Willy Adames hit his 19th homer, tying the club record for a shortstop (Brad Miller, 2016).
• Heading into the game, the Rays were 10-6 against the Red Sox this season, clinching the season series for the first time since 2015 (10-9).
• According to available data from Stats LLC (1974-present), Rays right-hander Nick Anderson registered the longest streak of strikeouts without a walk to begin a player’s tenure with a team. Anderson had 34 strikeouts before his first walk with the Rays (intentional pass to Corey Seager of the Dodgers). The previous mark was 30 by Billy Wagner of the 2004 Phillies.