ST. PETERSBURG - The Rays optioned veteran reliever Joe Nelson to Durham following Friday night's victory against the Royals, the team confirmed.
A corresponding move to replace him on the roster will be made Saturday.
Nelson, whose throwing error led to an unearned run in the ninth inning Friday, is 3-0 with a 4.02 ERA in 42 relief appearances this year, walking 27 and striking out 36. Those numbers are quite a drop-off from what he did last year with the Marlins: 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA, walking 22 and fanning 60 in 59 appearances.
It's unclear who might be recalled as a bullpen replacement. Andy Sonnanstine would seem a possibility, as he has gone 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts since being sent back to Durham, but there were no immediate indications that was the move the Rays planned to make.
The primary reliever in Durham on the 40-man roster is Dale Thayer, who can't be recalled now because he was just sent down Monday to clear a roster spot for Brian Shouse's return and must wait 10 days to return unless replacing an injured player (which he wouldn't be).
John Meloan, who came over from the Indians in the Winston Abreu trade, is also on the 40-man. The 25-year-old has a 3.18 ERA in eight relief appearances since joining the Bulls. Lefty James Houser's most recent appearance came in relief, but the Rays already have three lefties in their bullpen.