ST. PETERSBURG — Faced with an inexperienced catching situation after the position was wracked by injuries, the Rays acquired veteran Travis d’Arnaud from the Dodgers for cash considerations on Friday night.
The move was forced by a left quad injury to starter Mike Zunino, who was placed on the injured list and could miss 4-5 weeks, according to manager Kevin Cash. The Rays are also without backup Michael Perez, who is out at least two weeks with a right oblique strain.
“It’s not good news,’’ Cash said before the game against the Yankees.
D’Arnaud, 30, should arrive before Saturday night’s game. On Friday, the Rays started catcher Nick Ciuffo, recalled Wednesday from Triple-A Durham, and had Anthony Bemboom in reserve. Bemboom, getting his first major-league callup at age 29, weathered flight delays from Durham, N.C., and arrived at the Trop about 6:40 p.m. for the 7:10 start.
D’Arnaud said he was “super excited’’ to join the Rays, adding that he has “heard nothing but fantastic things not only about the way the team plays but the environment around the clubhouse as well.’’
D’Arnaud, who partially tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on April 8, 2018, and missed the remainder of that season, was designated for assignment on April 28 after going 2-for-23 in 10 games. On May 5 he signed with the Dodgers and grounded out in his only at-bat. D’Arnaud’s best season was 2017, when he batted .244 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs in 112 games.
Earlier in the day, Zunino said he was “frustrated and disappointed’’ over being sidelined.
“That’s the only way you can sum it up,’’ he said. “How we were playing, the way things were going, you never want anything to happen. I just want to put in all the work to get back as soon as possible.’’
Zunino, batting .220 with three homers and 17 RBIs, was injured Wednesday while running to first base against the Diamondbacks. He’s taking it day by day and wants to make certain he’s fully healed before returning.
Cash said the training staff described Zunino’s injury as a “significant strain.’’ Cash estimated it will take 4-5 weeks before Zunino’s return but added “there’s a lot more to be told after the first 10 days.’’ Cash doesn’t expected a lengthy absence from Perez because “we think we caught it early.’’
Rightfielder Austin Meadows, on the injured list since April 21 with a right thumb strain, returned to the lineup in a big way as the leadoff batter. Meadows smacked a first-inning double down the rightfield line to initially fulfill Cash’s wish of “picking up where he left off.’’ Meadows also hit a two-run homer in the fifth.
Before the injury, Meadows was hitting .351 with six home runs and 19 RBIs in 20 games.
“I’ve been away from the game for three weeks, and that’s a pretty significant amount of time,’’ Meadows said. “It has been tough watching them on TV. You always want to be out there competing with your guys. I remember screaming at the TV sometimes.’’
Third baseman Matt Duffy, who has been on the injured list since March 25 with a hamstring/back injury, expects to continue his rehabilitation beginning Monday at Class A Port Charlotte, with work to follow at Durham.
Duffy, whose rehab had been interrupted by a recent setback, said he “let it loose’’ with Friday’s running session. “The amount of running I did inside and outside was probably more than I would do in a doubleheader,’’ he said. “But playing in a game is different than getting it hot and running.’’
Duffy hasn’t played since last season, when he batted .294 in 132 games.
Welcome back, CC
On Saturday night, the Yankees start left-hander CC Sabathia, who recently became the 17th member of the 3,000-strikeout club. It’s his first appearance at the Trop since Sept. 27, when he was ejected for an intentional plunking of Rays batter Jesus Sucre.
The fireworks began after Sabathia hit Jake Bauers, then Rays pitcher Andrew Kittredge sent Austin Romine sprawling to the dirt with a 93 mph fastball near his head.
Before the next inning, home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza warned Sabathia that he would be ejected if there was retaliation. Undaunted, Sabathia hit Sucre. On his way out, Sabathia pointed toward the Rays dugout and said, “That’s for you, b- - - -.’’
Cash doesn’t expect any carryover Saturday.
“It’s something that happened … teammates protecting teammates,’’ Cash said. “We just have to find a way to beat (Sabathia) because he has pitched really well against us.’’
• Second baseman Brandon Lowe tied a club record by striking out for the eighth consecutive time (also Tomas Perez in 2006). After singling in his first at-bat Wednesday, Lowe struck out five straight times against the Diamondbacks, then whiffed in each of his first three at-bats against the Yankees.
• Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez became the fifth batter to hit the Trop’s A-ring catwalk. The sixth-inning popup caromed off the catwalk, in play, and was muffed by Rays shortstop Willy Adames for a single.
• Cash said he was pleased with the work of first baseman Nate Lowe, who batted .257 in nine games before being sent back to Durham after Wednesday’s game. “I was very impressed … we all were,’’ Cash said. “He can help us. He’s an important part of the organization.’’
• Before the fourth inning began, the Trop’s lights went out, but power was restored after about 15 seconds. The Rays weren’t immediately certain what caused the outage.
• If the Rays win this weekend’s series against the Yankees, they will be 10-1-2 in series play this season and 22-3-4 in their past 29 series (dating to last season).