When Chris Archer was placed on the IL due to lateral forearm tightness following Saturday’s game, fans were clamoring for Shane McClanahan or Josh Fleming to fill his spot when they got an unexpected but exciting surprise- Brent Honeywell Jr. will make his long-awaited MLB debut opening against the New York Yankees.
The newest addition will likely only pitch 1 or 2 innings, as Michael Wacha is slated to come in and do the bulk of the work, but it’s a big step. There was a time in which seeing Honeywell in the big leagues seemed incredibly far away, if not impossible.
Honeywell tore his UCL while throwing his first live batting practice of 2018 and required Tommy John surgery. In 2019 while throwing a bullpen, he fractured his pitching elbow. In 2020 he once again had surgery to clear up a nerve issue. Finally, in December he had a fourth surgery to “clean up” his elbow. All of this came with 3 years of sitting on the sidelines and lots of work.
Honeywell returned to the mound in his first professional game since 2017 in spring training this March against the Red Sox. He threw one inning, giving up a hit and a walk. His line wasn’t eye-popping, but his stuff still was, showing why he was once one of baseball’s top pitching prospects, and most importantly- that he’s still got it.
Teammates have referred to him as a “baseball junkie” and attribute a lot of his drive to get back on the mound to his love of the game. “Every fifth day, man. Every fifth day is the best day of my life,” Honeywell once said.
“His heart is a baseball”, said Chris Archer, who has known Honeywell for years, dating back to Archer’s first stint with the Rays. Rays newly minted ace Tyler Glasnow has raved about Honeywell since spring training, saying he “could contribute right now in my opinion”.
The support from his teammates has not gone unnoticed by Honeywell who said “that one hit me right in the heart a little bit” after almost the whole spring training camp was there to watch his first live batting practice of spring.
Exactly 1300 days since he last pitched in a meaningful game, his determination, confidence, and work ethic have finally led to the payoff that he always believed they would. This time, it isn’t a simulated game, a minor league game, or even spring training. It’s the show. It’s where Brent Honeywell Jr. belongs.
You can watch Brent Honeywell Jr. make his MLB debut Sunday afternoon against the New York Yankees at 1:10pm EST on Bally Sports Sun, MLB Network, or listen on Rays Radio.