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Rays put starting catcher Mike Zunino on IL, call up Anthony Bemboom, bring back Casey Sadler, activate Austin Meadows

With Michael Perez also out, Rays have two rookies, Nick Ciuffo and Bemboom, behind the plate.

UPDATE, 4:37: Cash said Zunino could be out 4-5 weeks given that it was “a significant strain” and Perez potentially 2-3 weeks. Cash said the biggest priority for both Ciuffo and Anthony Bemboom, who was called up for what will be his big-league debut, is getting them schooled and comfortable with the pitchers. ... Ciuffo said he is ready for the challenge of being a big-league regular. ... Bemboom had flight delays and the Rays are hoping he gets here by late afternoon. .... Meadows said he feels good and is ready to go.

DEVELOPING: The Rays didn’t catch a break with regards to starting catcher Mike Zunino’s left quad tightness.

Zunino’s injury was severe enough that he was placed on the injured list, with a rough estimate of missing about three weeks.

To replace Zunino, the Rays will use Nick Ciuffo as the primary catcher and called up Anthony Bemboom from Triple-A Durham to make his major-league debut. Bemboom, 29, spent time at Triple-A the previous three seasons in the Angels and Rockies organizations before signing a minor-league deal with the Rays for this year.

With backup catcher Michael Perez also going on the injured list this week due to an oblique strain, the Rays are left with two rookies behind the plate in Ciuffo and Bemboom. Ciuffo, 24, has played in 18 big-league games, starting 14, all last year. Also, both are left-handed hitters.

It would seem likely the Rays will look around to see if they can find a more experienced catcher to help fill-in, as their depth is also further depleted, with Mac James likely next in line.

The Rays also recalled reliever Casey Sadler, who had just been sent back down on Wednesday, and optioned infielder/outfielder Andrew Velazquez back to Durham. Sadler was eligible to be recalled due to the Zunino injury, and will add a fresh arm to the bullpen, as the Rays are planning to use an opener/bulk guy on Saturday. Tyler Glasnow starts tonight and Blake Snell on Sunday.

And, as expected, they activated outfielder Austin Meadows, who has been out since straining his right thumb on April 20 after a hot start to the season.

Bemboom injured a thumb in spring training and didn’t start playing in the minors this season until April 24 and had played only eight games, five with Durham. Zunino has been strong defensively and in his game-calling, and provided some power production at the plate.


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