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New Rays reliever JT Chargois excited to be part of ‘the real deal’

Tampa Bay Times logo Tampa Bay Times 7/31/2021 Payton Titus, Tampa Bay Times
a close up of a man wearing a hat: Recently acquired JT Chargois made an impressive debut for the Rays Friday, working a 1-2-3 seventh inning. © Arielle Bader/Times Recently acquired JT Chargois made an impressive debut for the Rays Friday, working a 1-2-3 seventh inning.

ST. PETERSBURG — A week before spring training this year, right-handed reliever JT Chargois didn’t know if he was going to keep playing baseball.

In his words, he was mentally preparing himself for a major life transition.

Fast forward to Thursday night. Chargois, 30, was sitting in a hotel room with his parents in the Dallas area when he got a phone call informing him that an organization with an elite but injury-badgered bullpen wanted him to be part of it. It was the Rays, who got Chargois and prospect infielder Austin Shenton from Seattle for reliever Diego Castillo.

“To be in this moment right now where it’s like, dude, this is the AL East, and it’s a contender,” Chargois (SHA-gwah) said Friday, “this is the big leagues right here. Yeah, this is the real deal. ... I’m pretty pumped to see what this place brings.”

General manager Erik Neander said Chargois is a guy with a similar repertoire to Castillo — wipeout sliders, sinking fastballs — and they were impressed with the former Mariner’s performance when the teams met in June.

Chargois said he is excited to be part of the Rays’ bullpen and want to learn as much as he can. “I’ve only heard great things about (pitching coach Kyle) Snyder. I heard he’s the guru, and I’m pumped to come under his tutelage,” he said. “I want to get better every day.”

Chargois made an impressive debut Friday, working a 1-2-3 seventh inning. “He looked good,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “(Catcher Mike Zunino) came off after his outing and said, ‘We can work with that.’ Really good stuff — 95-96-mile-an-hour fastball, upper-80s slider. Everybody has told us and (who) talked about him said he’s really talented.”

Tough goodbye for Diego Castillo

Trading away Castillo for Chargois and Shenton was a surprise to many. Cash said Castillo did a lot of good things for the Rays.

“He has been a part of us doing special things. He’s recorded a lot of big outs,” Cash said. “(I) cannot speak highly enough about Diego and just what he’s meant to our team, certainly our bullpen, but to our team over the last three seasons.”

The trade also was hard on Andrew Kittredge, another bullpen veteran.

“It definitely hurts a little bit,” Kittredge said. “Diego is such a great human and a teammate before he is such a great pitcher, as well. But I think we’ve just got to trust the front office that they know what they’re doing, and they’re pretty good at identifying talent, especially with pitching.”

Medical matters: Anderson, Glasnow, Cruz

Top starter Tyler Glasnow took at least a small step toward a big stage of his potential return from a June elbow injury, throwing off a mound for the first time while in the Dallas area for previously scheduled follow-up doctor visits. … Reliever Nick Anderson’s rehab from his spring elbow injury is on hold indefinitely due to what Cash said were COVID-related issues” but wouldn’t elaborate. Anderson was to shift his rehab to Triple-A Durham on Thursday after two appearances for the Florida Complex League team but never made it before being sidelined. … DH Nelson Cruz returned after being out of the starting lineup for two games after fouling a ball off his right foot Tuesday.

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