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Brad Boxberger out 8 weeks after core muscle surgery

The Tampa Bay Rays' closer underwent core muscle surgery and will be sidelined for eight weeks.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays' closer will be sidelined for the next eight weeks after Brad Boxberger underwent surgery to repair a torn abdominal abductor muscle. The team's manager, Kevin Cash, met with the media to discuss the injury Friday morning.

According to Cash, the injury caused Boxberger surprisingly little pain and was originally thought to be a tight hamstring. It apparently started nagging Boxberger too much and the Rays decided the best course of action was to be proactive.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Cash will appoint a new closer internally and not make an official announcement.

With a little over two weeks remaining until Opening Day, Boxberger will miss at least April and some of May. However, Cash said that Boxberger's timetable will be re-evaluated four weeks into his rehab.

With the possibility of Boxberger making his way back by May, the need for Cash to name an official closer is fairly diminished. Furthermore, the Rays are typically a team that spreads saves among relievers and doesn't fully abide by issuing roles. A total of eight relievers last season earned at least one save for the Rays.

The most likely candidates on the Rays roster to get saves then likely becomes a tandem of Danny Farquhar, Xavier Cedeno, Alex Colome, and Matt Andriese. With Cedeno as the lone lefty in that group, Cash may opt for him to close games against lefty-heavy lineups. Furthermore, Cash ruled out looking for a trade by saying the role will be filled 'internally.'

With the Rays expected to contend according to PECOTA, Boxberger is a key piece for the Rays bullpen and the overall roster. With him currently slated to come back in mid-May, the AL East should by no means should be able to slip away too much. Furthermore, Alex Cobb is still scheduled to return from Tommy John surgery in mid-August. It's a long season, and if the Rays stumble out of the gate due to some key injuries, they could more than make up for it down the stretch.