Getting to Know: Neil Wagner
Of the four pitchers in Rays camp that are recovering from Tommy John surgery, Neil Wagner might be the furthest along. Wagner, along with Jonny Venters , threw a second bullpen on Friday. Venters is coming back from a third TJ surgery, while Chase Whitley and Alex Cobb have yet to throw bullpens, and are hoping to be available to the Rays in the second half (late July/early August)
Wagner has been pleased with the first two bullpens, after not pitching in a game since 2014. Wagner broke through at the MLB level with Oakland in 2011, and then got his most extended opportunity with the Blue Jays in 2013 and 2014.
When he signed as a free agent with Toronto prior to the 2013 season, he was close to signing with Tampa Bay. When Wagner was released in 2014 after his Tommy John surgery, he went back to the Rays, creating a unique relationship with Tampa Bay.
Wagner signed a rare two-year minor league contract, giving him the chance to rehab with the Rays well-respected training staff. Wagner, who was throwing mid to upper 90s with Toronto, is hoping to regain his form, and help Tampa Bay at some point this season.
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Wagner has appeared in 52 MLB games, going 2–4 with a 4.92 ERA, while pitching accumulating 10.41 strikeouts at the minor league level.