Castillo Back, Patino To Make Rays Debut Sunday

Patino’s Role Uncertain, But His Electric Arm Isn’t

St. Petersburg – The Tampa Bay Rays announced that they have placed Luis Patino on the taxi squad and he is expected to make his Tampa Bay debut on Sunday afternoon. Whether he opens for Josh Fleming or follows Fleming is up in the air. Either way, his electric fastball will be a delight for fans to watch.

Patino, 21, was acquired from the San Diego Padres along with Francisco Mejia, Cole Wilcox, and Blake Hunt in exchange for Blake Snell over the winter will be making his Rays debut. He did appear with San Diego in 2020, out of their bullpen and pitched to a 1-0 record with a 5.19 ERA spanning 17.1 innings of work. He struggled to harness his arsenal striking out 21 but walking three.

He has been working out at the alternate site and pitching every five or six days. He said he’s stretched out to around four innings. He’s certainly excited about the start which will have a different feeling than his callup last year. A year in which he was unable to invite family and friends to the park to watch him play because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“When I made my debut last year it was special, but I think this year will be very special in the sense that last year when I debuted I couldn’t call anybody to show up at the stadium. This year I have my parents coming they should be getting in tonight.” Patino said.  “They are able to come out here and prepare accordingly and I think that mentally, its good to know that people are going to be around. Family going to be around and I’m prepared to go out there and do something special and I’m ready to go.”

It’s the first time his parents will see him pitch in a major league game. “Yeah, professionally this will be the first time they see me in the big leagues.” Patino said. “They saw me pitch in the futures game one year but other than that  that’s the last time they’ve seen me pitch professionally.”

He was told the news on Thursday and had to keep it under wraps until the Rays made it official and his phone has been blowing up with calls and texts, he’s excited about who else might be in attendance. It will be a special day for him and his family for certain.

Patino is also a proud Colombian and wants to set the bar high for everyone in his hometown and surrounding area. Last year he became the first big league pitcher from Barranquilla, Colombia. Nabil Crismatt has since joined him as pitchers from the city. It’s the same hometown as Edgar Renteria and brothers Jonathan and Donovan Solano.

He was asked by Jon Morosi (link here) what it meant to be the first pitcher from Barranquilla he said:

“It happened so suddenly, and opened doors without me even realizing it. Opened doors for all the kids in Barranquilla to follow their dreams of signing to do so with the example that I could. And that if I can do it, they can too if they keep working have discipline, doing things the right way. I opened doors so the scouts could take them so they could play on a big league affiliated team. What I did has been a good thing for Colombia…….” Adding, “I believe that this has been something beautiful for me, but even more for the city because I  keep opening doors. So that all of the scouts and all the guys who sing in Colombia know that cities like Barranquilla and Cartagena have high quality players.”

As for Sunday’s action, Kevin Cash isn’t ready to say where/when Patino or Josh Fleming will enter. “We’re probably going to find ways now to be a little bit creative try to get different looks. It’s just kind of the state of where are pitching is right now.” He said. “I think it would be a benefit, we all think it would be a benefit, to give different looks to opposing lineups and see how we can maximize pitches from a lot of talented pitchers.”

It also doesn’t sound as if Patino will be a one-inning type of opener. “We’ve worked hard to get them built up last couple weeks at the alternate site, we don’t want to go backwards from that.” That might lead one to think of the old “tandem start” but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Maybe a label slightly different? “I’m not too keen on the tandem thought.” Cash said. “I think that pins you into something. The game is going to still continue to dictate how we use guys.”

Josh Fleming seems just as excited as everyone else to see Patino and work the game with him.  ”I don’t know if he could be potentially opening for me or coming in after I’m not sure I haven’t heard anything yet.” Fleming said. “It’s going to be exciting to watch him throw in a big league game I’ve seen him throw in spring training and at the alternate site and he’s electric so it’s going to be awesome.”

Fleming also believes that the combination of his stuff and Patino’s will be effective against the Blue Jays. “I think it will be very effective. Obviously he’s a high velo guy, he’s got some good carry and just harder stuff than I do.” he said. “I think those two, me and him, whether he’s opening for me whether I’m going and he’s following I think its really going to throw the Blue Jays for a loop. Two different styles of pitching. I’m a lot of movement guy, he’s high velo I think it’s going to be very difficult tomorrow for the Blue Jays.”

Castillo Back:

Diego Castillo was activated off the injured list after missing a day due to side affects associated with the Covid vaccine. He had his second shot in his left arm and said he had the sore shoulder and “felt like his whole body was sore and tired. 

“It’s nice to have him back. It’s not really comforting [losing Castillo] given the amount of injuries that we’ve had to some key guys in the bullpen, high leverage backend guys.” Kevin Cash said. “I talked to him, he says he feels a lot better, so we are excited to have him back in there today.”

Mazza To IL:

Chris Mazza worked three innings of scoreless relief against the Blue Jays on Friday night. After the game he complained that his shoulder was barking and got checked by a doctor. Prior to the game on Saturday the Rays placed him on the injured list. “Some inflammation in there we have to let calm down see where he goes next 10-15 days- shut him down for right now and hopefully he bounces back.” Cash said. “Now just another injury that we work hard to avoid but they keep creeping up on us a little bit.”

Rays Designate For Assignment Gruillon:

Diego Castillo‘s removal from the Covid IL (where he doesn’t count on 40-man roster) meant that a 40-man roster spot was needed. Louis Head was added to the 40-man on Friday when Castillo went on the IL. To make room the Rays designated for catcher Deivy Grullon.

Grullon, 25, was claimed off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds on April 6th.

I am a fan of all sports but am most passionate about baseball. From the fanatical to analytical, nothing about the game escapes me. Being born and raised in Northeast Ohio I'm very familiar with the heartache and pain that sports can bring and hope that I bring some understanding of the other side to my coverage. I will focus mostly on baseball but also cover the Tampa Bay Lightning, one of the most electric franchises in all of sports. Always willing to converse about any sport and have only one rule and that is be respectful at all times.