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Reliever Ryan Sherriff said leaving the Rays during the opening weekend series in Miami, to take time away to address mental health issues, was a pivotal and correct decision.

“I just felt like I was in an extremely dark place,” Sherriff said before Saturday’s game in Arlington, Texas. “I felt as if it wasn’t fair to my teammates to continue being there if I wasn’t mentally there. So I needed to put myself before baseball.

“And now I feel great. I’m glad that I took those two weeks to get my mind right, and to focus on myself and learn how to have fun again.”

Sherriff didn’t get into great detail in his first comments to Tampa Bay media since reporting back to Port Charlotte on April 19, then on May 11 joining Triple-A Durham, from where he was promoted Friday.

He said the restrictions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic were a factor and somewhat of a trigger, and that he got great support from his family, friends, agent and especially the Rays organization.

“They’ve all shined the light on me and supported any decision that I wanted to make,” he said. “I just think that I just needed a little bit of a break. Going through all the COVID stuff and the isolations and all of that, I just needed some time away to get my life together.”

Sherriff, 31, said he has a better understanding of what matters most to him and how important it is for mental health issues to be addressed in the pro sports world, offering to help others and to advocate for assistance.

“I think I’m going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life,” he said. “But I’m glad that I have a great foundation where to start from.”

Tyler Zombro still ‘progressing’ in right direction

Reports continue to be encouraging on the condition of Triple-A pitcher Tyler Zombro, who was hit in the face by a line drive Thursday. Cash said Zombro was was able to get out of his Durham, N.C., hospital bed and walk around with assistance. “Progressing in the right direction,” Cash said.

Sherriff, who was with Durham on Thursday, said the eighth-inning incident was “very, very chilling” and “one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever experienced in my life.” He also said it was tough because he spent the offseason working out with Zombro. “It really hit home to me,” he said.

Cash said general manager Erik Neander went to Durham to see Zombro and also praised the “tremendous” work of Bulls athletic trainers Kris Russell and Scott Thurston.

Numbers of the day


Rays’ AL-best record through 60 games this season


Rays’ AL-best record for the 60-game 2020 season


⋅ With only five infielders on the roster following Ji-Man Choi’s injury, Cash said catcher Francisco Mejia is most likely to be used if help is needed. Pitcher Josh Fleming volunteered, claiming to be a defensive replacement at first base for his Division III Webster University team. “Sounds like that probably wasn’t a very good team that he was on,” Cash joked, “but whatever.”

⋅ Reliever Yacksel Rios on Friday was traded to Seattle for cash; Rios had been at Triple-A Durham and had a June 1 out clause in his minor-league contract. Lefty Brian Moran, who had a similar out clause, ended up staying with the Bulls.

⋅ Friday’s crowd of 30,635 and Saturday’s of 27,237 were the largest the Rays played in front of since the 2019 playoffs in Houston.

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