ST. PETERSBURG — Needing a little bit of a mound makeover, the Rays’ starting pitching could get a boost from the return of 21-year-old right-hander Luis Patino.
Having ironed some things out in Triple-A Durham, Patino was added to the taxi squad Wednesday and will start for the Rays against the Indians Thursday.
But this may not be a short-term promotion. With inconsistent performances from the other pitchers who have been used in starter and bulk-inning roles — Rich Hill, Shane McClanahan, Ryan Yarbrough and Michael Wacha — Patino has an opportunity to carve out a big role.
“I don’t know if we have an exact message to give him, but we know we want him to start,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s done good things in Triple-A. Young pitcher that we’ve got to find a way to give him a little bit of a lane, create a path for him to take off here for us. And hopefully, (Thursday) is the start of that.”
Cash was asked if the move was about giving Patino an opportunity or resting other arms, especially with J.P. Feyereisen headed to the injured list with shoulder tightness.
“No, it’s about giving him the opportunity and see if he can take off,” Cash said. “We talked about the starting pitchers yesterday. He’s got a chance — it’s tough to put pressure on a 21 year old — but he’s got a chance to be…