NS. PETERSBURG – Chris Archer is returning to the hill on Sunday for the first time in 4½ months, for the first time in 4½ months, feeling excited, confident and above all healthy.
Something will be missing, however, as he is contesting the hill in the majors for the first time since his mother Donna’s death on May 1st.
“I’ve played pretty much every game in my life, at least in the big leagues, where my mom was either watching or in the stands, so it’ll be different,” said Archer. “But it motivates. It’s encouraging. It’s not one of those things that definitely pulls me down. If anything, I want to allow my mother’s legacy to shine through me even more. So I’m ready to get out of there. “
Archer will have tangible support on the hill as he added one of his mother’s rings to his gold necklace. “I’ll have it with me, and even if it isn’t, it’s like she’s always there,” he said. “The charisma and the energy and the life that I have out there, that’s all.”
He will also have emotional support at Tropicana Field as his father Ron and several friends from their hometown of North Carolina will be in the stands.
Archer left the team shortly after spending her final days with Donna and then with Ron, and was gone for about a month. He started his rehab assignment in late July and had another delay when he left a game on August 1st due to left hip pain.
“Of course I had some physical ailments and it was a struggle,” he said. “And then I had some psychological complaints that were also a struggle. But as I posted (Friday on Instagram) being in this area and having the resources I have and being treated really, really well by everyone here at Trop and everyone in St. Pete made the process a lot easier made . The process wasn’t easy, but nowhere would I have gone through what I’ve been through more than here. “
He also strives to do his part to help the team.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “A lot has happened in the last 4 1/2 months and there is no place I would rather be than on this hill in this Sunday (light) blues.”
Archer and manager Kevin Cash said there won’t be a set limit to his workload, but likely in line or shortly after his last outing at Triple-A Durham when he threw 71 pitches over 4 2/3 innings.
When the bullpen door turns
For the seventh time in 10 days, the Rays added a new arm to the bullpen and selected Durham right-handed David Hess. Chris Mazza, who worked two innings on Friday, was sent down. First baseman Mike Ford, acquired in a June deal with the Yankees, was put on a contract to create a 40-man squad room after hitting .243 with 11 homers and a .874 OPS at Durham. Hess, 28, started the spring training year with the Rays, then Durham, traded with the Marlins and spent a month in the majors, sacked by Miami and signed a minor league deal with the Rays on Wednesday .
⋅ Wander Franco’s double in the first inning extended his streak on the base to 23 games, the longest active run of its kind in the majors, the second longest by a Rays rookie (Rocco Baldelli made 24 in 2003) and the longest by a player in 20 ( or younger) since Ken Griffey Jr. turned 25 in 1990.
⋅ Reliever Ryan Thompson had a little more stiffness in his shoulder after a Friday rehab outing with Durham.
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