McGee could return to 'pen during homestand

McGee could return to 'pen during homestand

BOSTON -- Jake McGee continues to get closer to rejoining the Rays after making his third rehab start, a one-inning, 15-pitch stint for Triple-A Durham on Tuesday night.

The hard-throwing left-hander threw 14 pitches in a perfect inning against Buffalo (Blue Jays) in Durham.

"Everything was good," Rays manager Kevin Cash reported.

McGee will remain with Durham while taking a couple of days off before his next outing.

Cash did not rule out McGee being back with the Rays at some point during the upcoming homestand.

"I wouldn't say there's no chance," Cash said, "but I wouldn't anticipate us really factoring that in until the end of the homestand."

According to Cash, the Rays would like for McGee to check two boxes on his punch list before returning to the club. One would be an "up-and-down" or pitching in one inning, sitting down between innings then going back out to the mound the next inning. And the other would be pitching in back-to-back games.

"The back-to-back thing, I think we can manage [in St. Petersburg] a little bit, also," Cash said. "But the up-down is, I think, a situation we'd like to have him be able to be comfortable doing that. Finish an inning and then go out and get another guy or something."

McGee had "loose bodies" removed from his left elbow during an operation that took place in December. Since then, he has experienced only one setback and that dealt with back tightness. Cash said McGee's back has not been an issue since he had to take a few days off to get his back to return to normal.

Recently, McGee told reporters that he hoped that Cash would have a role for him when he returned. Cash chuckled at the story.

"His role will be an important one," Cash said.

McGee became the team's closer during the second half of the 2014 season and led the team in saves with 19. However, Cash said he will continue to manage the bullpen without anointing a closer.

"No, [we] won't just make him the ninth-inning guy," Cash said.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.