Rays journal: Mike Zunino questionable with quad tightness

Tampa Bay might have some decisions to make if catchers Zunino and Michael Perez are both out for multiple games.
Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino (10) heads out onto the first at the start of the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino (10) heads out onto the first at the start of the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Published May 8

ST. PETERSBURG — Mike Zunino adjusted his stride while running toward first in the eighth inning Wednesday. He reached the base guardedly, prompting manager Kevin Cash and an athletic trainer to come out of the Rays dugout.

Zunino’s left quad had tightened up on him.

He never returned behind home plate as Nick Ciuffo, who was recalled from Triple-A Durham on Wednesday morning, took over at catcher.

Zunino played in back-to-back games against the Diamondbacks, coming off a night game Tuesday and into the 3-2 loss in extra innings Wednesday afternoon. In the last week, he played three games in three days, starting with the second half of a doubleheader against the Royals and finishing off at Baltimore before coming home to the Trop.

He will use Thursday’s off-day to get tests done.

Backup catcher Michael Perez is also out with a right oblique strain — 10 days on the injured list. The Rays might consider calling up Anthony Bemboom, currently with Durham, but he has played only eight games in the minors after hurting his thumb in spring training.

Cash said the team will evaluate its options if both Zunino and Perez are out. For now, he has confidence in Ciuffo.

“Hopefully (Ciuffo) can kind of slide in and fill a void because Mike Perez is already big,” Cash said, “but if Z needs a couple of days, that’s even bigger.”

The Rays' Austin Pruitt (45) walks off the field during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (ALLIE GOULDING  |   Times)
The Rays' Austin Pruitt (45) walks off the field during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (ALLIE GOULDING | Times)

Sadler sent to Durham

The Rays optioned RHP Casey Sadler to Triple-A Durham. It’s the third time he has been optioned this season.

“Sadler’s done a nice job,” Cash said. “Really nice job for us. He’s put himself in the mix to where we have confidence for him to get back up here with the right opportunity and pitch well for us.”

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Right-hander Austin Pruitt, meanwhile, was recalled from the Bulls. Cash said that Pruitt was scratched Tuesday to cover the team, but he made an appearance Wednesday, pitching 2⅔ scoreless and hitless innings.

“It made sense to get him up here, that we used everybody (Tuesday night),” Cash said.

After Wednesday’s game, the Rays optioned first baseman Nate Lowe to Durham. They will announce a corresponding move by Friday.

“You try to come up with positive messages when they’re getting here and then when they’re getting sent down,” Cash said. “We’re very aware of how taxing it can be on the individual, the families and, obviously, the Triple-A roster.”

Tampa Bay Rays opening pitcher Charlie Morton (50) delivers during the first inning. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Tampa Bay Rays opening pitcher Charlie Morton (50) delivers during the first inning. (DIRK SHADD | Times)

Working the bullpen

Seven Rays pitchers were used Wednesday.

“We asked a lot of the guys today,” Cash said. “I thought the bullpen really did a good job.”

Charlie Morton started and went five innings. He was followed by Emilio Pagan, Austin Pruitt, Jose Alvarado, Diego Castillo, Adam Kolarek and Chaz Roe. The six relievers combined for 11 strikeouts to go along with Morton’s eight.

Cash said the group needs a day off to recuperate after the 4-hour, 39-minute game. The Rays will need it to prepare for the Yankees in a home series beginning Friday.

Tampa Bay broke its own team record for the most combined strikeouts in an extra-inning game. Between the teams, the Rays and Diamondbacks had 42 strikeouts. Previously, the record was 37 in a 15-inning game against the Red Sox on Sept. 15, 2017.

[ RELATED: Join our Rays Fever Facebook group for conversation, polls, story links and more ]

Miscellaneous

• The Rays’ Brandon Lowe struck out five times, a franchise high in a single game.

• The Rays are 0-4 this season in extra-inning games, and it’s the fifth time they have lost when allowing three runs or fewer.

• This series marked the first time Tampa Bay failed to sweep the Diamondbacks since June 2004.

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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