Talbot takes his place in Rays' bullpen

Talbot takes his place in 'pen

ST. PETERSBURG -- Mitch Talbot arrived at the Rays' clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon after catching a 1 p.m. ET flight from Durham, N.C.

With closer Troy Percival (left hamstring strain) going on the disabled list on Tuesday night, Talbot was recalled from Triple-A to fill the team's long relief role.

Talbot went 7-6 with a 4.41 ERA in 17 starts for the Bulls this season. The 24-year-old right-hander came to the Rays, along with infielder Ben Zobrist, in the 2006 trade that sent Aubrey Huff to the Astros.

Talbot feels comfortable taking on his new role but acknowledged that there will be challenges.

"Yeah, it's going to be a tough role, because it's going to maybe be a blowout game, or something happens early in the game where we need a lot of innings covered," Talbot said. "It's going to be tough to stay sharp, but because they called me up, I know they have the confidence in me, and I have the confidence that I can do it."

In the past, Talbot has struggled with his emotions on the mound, but he feels he has made strides in that area this season.

"I definitely do," he said. "Between last year and this year, the maturity level is a lot higher. I'm more composed on the mound."

Talbot said that he and his Durham teammates have been keeping up with what's going on with the Rays.

"What's going on here is amazing," said Talbot, who could not hide his excitement. "It's been so much fun to watch back in Durham. And now, to be a part of it, it's going to be a blast. We love watching every night after [our] game."

Talbot is a self-described "fastball-changeup guy."

"Not overpowering, a little bit of movement and depth on my two-seamer," he said. "That's pretty much what I work with."

Though on the surface, Talbot's promotion appears to be a short-term move, there's a good chance he could hang around longer than most expect. He would likely be the player to be sent down once Al Reyes (right shoulder tendinitis) or Percival returns from the disabled list. But manager Joe Maddon has seen both of the veteran relievers try to come back sooner than expected earlier this season, and neither return had good results. So this time around, the Rays want to proceed with more caution.

"We want [Reyes] well," Maddon said. "We want Percy well. I mean well, without any strings attached. There's no big rush. Just be patient and get these guys right."

Reyes threw all of his pitches during a 35-pitch bullpen stint hours before Wednesday night's game. He reported no pain in his shoulder and expects to throw a simulated game on Saturday in advance of eventually experiencing some Minor League innings before making his return.

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