The Rays recalled Kolarek from Triple-A Durham on Sunday, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports. Despite being optioned to Durham one day earlier, Kolarek will be able to return to Tampa Bay before the minimum 10 days after fellow reliever Jose Alvarado was placed on the family medical list. While he's up with the big club, Kolarek could settle back into a setup role after previously capturing nine holds over his 29 appearances with the Rays.
Kolarek was optioned to Triple-A Durham on Saturday, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports. He logged a 7.71 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in 9.1 innings across 14 appearances in May. The Rays are short on healthy hitters at the moment, so Nate Lowe was promoted from Triple-A in a corresponding move.
Kolarek, who fired two-thirds of a scoreless inning in which he recorded a strikeout during a win over the Marlins on Wednesday, owns a 2-1 record, eight holds, a 3.21 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP across 14 innings. The 30-year-old southpaw has been a highly reliable component of the bullpen for the most part, and he's generated back-to-back scoreless efforts after a pair of hiccups earlier in May. Kolarek has especially done an effective job keeping the ball down, as evidenced by his 62.8 percent groundball rate. He also went 16 appearances to open the season without allowing a home run before yielding his first two round trippers of the season to the Diamondbacks on May 7.
Kolarek remains in contention for the final bullpen spot despite allowing nine earned runs over seven innings in Grapefruit League play, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports. A ragged spring notwithstanding, Kolarek is still a candidate for a bullpen spot also being chased by Emilio Pagan, Hunter Wood and Hoby Milner. Kolarek does have the distinction of being a southpaw, which could play into manager Kevin Cash's final decision from an overall matchup perspective. Kolarek presumably sports a respectable track record in Cash's eyes after having posted a serviceable 3.93 ERA over 31 appearances last season, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough to override his struggles thus far this year. Cash is on record as stating that the winner of the bullpen race may not be announced until the last couple of Grapefruit League games, meaning that Kolarek and his fellow competitors should still have at least one more opportunity each to make their respective cases.
Kolarek allowed six runs (four earned) on two hits and two walks while striking out one over two-thirds of an inning during Tuesday's loss to the Twins. Kolarek served as the opener for the Rays and allowed the first three batters to reach base -- though one reached via error -- before giving up a grand slam to Eddie Rosario. The 30-year-old has thrown two innings over four spring appearances, and has given up nine runs (seven earned) on seven hits and four walks.