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Rays put closer Pete Fairbanks on the IL with forearm inflammation

Fairbanks had been unavailable for the last few days due to numbness in his the fingers on his pitching hand, which the Rays had attributed to his Raynaud’s syndrome.

Pete Fairbanks of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers a pitch to the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning at Tropicana Field on April 23, 2023 in St Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

When Tampa Bay Rays closer Pete Fairbanks left the ninth inning of a win over the Chicago White Sox last week with numbness in his fingers, the team attributed the symptoms to the his Raynaud’s syndrome — a condition that restricts blood supply to extremities, particularly in cold weather. Fairbanks even threw over the weekend, and seemed like he was on the right track.

But the numbness has persisted even in the warmth of the Trop, and now it appears there may be something far more serious going on:

Fairbanks was put on the injured list prior to Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates with right forearm inflammation. The righty is no stranger to arm injuries, with two Tommy John surgeries under his belt along with a partial tear of his lat that cost him half of the 2022 season, but he doesn’t seem too concerned about this being a long-term issue — and told reporters that he it’s not even related to the finger condition he experienced last week:

If it were an extended absence, it would be another big blow to a Rays pitching staff that’s suffered more than its fair share of injuries so far this season between Tyler Glasnow’s lat, Zach Eflin’s back and, most significantly, Jeffrey Springs’ UCL tear. Tampa Bay’s been so dominant that it hasn’t afforded a ton of save opportunities, but Fairbanks has been lights out in the one’s he’s been given, with 7.2 scoreless innings to start his season. He was also arguably the best reliever in baseball after returning from his injury last year, with a 1.13 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 24 innings of work.

If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Fairbanks’ replacement at the back-end of the bullpen, Jason Adam, has been just as good — he nailed down a save on Tuesday night against Pittsburgh by striking out the side and has allowed just two earned runs in 12 appearances this season.