Hickey, Rays aim to construct another stellar ‘pen

ST. PETERSBURG — Tampa Bay’s 2012 bullpen might have been the best in team history. Now the Rays’ brass must cobble together a ‘pen with what remains from that extraordinary group.

Last year’s bullpen led the American League with a 2.88 ERA and held opposing batters to a .208 batting average. That gave the Rays the lowest ERA by an AL team since the 2005 Indians (2.80) and lowest opposing average by any Major League bullpen since the 2003 Dodgers (.207).

Looking toward 2013, the Rays have three solid members set to return in Fernando Rodney, Jake McGee and Joel Peralta.

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Scott, Hellickson, Peralta & Farnsworth set to return

The Rays have sustained more than their fair share of injuries this year, but a squad of reinforcements appears to be on the way back.

Luke Scott headlines the list of those close to returning, as the injured designated hitter wrapped up a two-game rehab assignment Tuesday night with Triple-A Durham before returning to work out in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

Manager Joe Maddon said Scott would likely be back with the team for Thursday’s series opener against Detroit at Tropicana Field.

"He’s doing well," Maddon said. "There’s a pretty good chance you’ll get to see him [Thursday]."

In two games with Durham, Scott went 3-for-8 with two home runs, four RBIs and three runs scored.

Injured reliever Kyle Farnsworth also appeared in Durham’s game on Tuesday, tossing one scoreless inning and striking out two as part of his rehab assignment. He’s scheduled to pitch again on Wednesday.

"I haven’t heard anything negative," Maddon said of Farnsworth. "I heard everything was good last night. [His] fastball was up to 96 and hard, good sliders. From his own mouth, Kyle felt very good about the slider and cutter. No issues at all, arm felt great. He spoke well of himself."

In addition, Jeremy Hellickson said on Monday that he’ll likely pitch Saturday against the Tigers, while reliever Joel Peralta is slated to return from his eight-game suspension on Saturday.

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