Ji-Man Choi’s return to Rays may be delayed due to knee soreness

Rays notes | Kevin Cash said tolerance is required. Also, the Yankees are up to 7 positive COVID-19 cases.
The timetable for Ji-Man Choi’s return to the Rays is in some question after he experienced soreness in his surgically repaired right knee.
The timetable for Ji-Man Choi’s return to the Rays is in some question after he experienced soreness in his surgically repaired right knee. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published May 13, 2021|Updated May 13, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG — The timetable for Ji-Man Choi’s return to the Rays is in some question after he experienced soreness in his surgically repaired right knee.

Choi reported the issue while playing for Triple-A Durham on Tuesday. He was already scheduled to return to St. Petersburg Wednesday, though not to be activated for the game against the Yankees. He was examined by Dr. Koco Eaton, who did the March arthroscopic surgery.

Manager Kevin Cash said after talking to Eaton they didn’t consider the soreness to be a setback but more something Choi would have to tolerate and still hoped he would be ready in the next few days.

“I think this is just a minor thing and that there’s a chance that he’s activated soon,” Cash said. “If it doesn’t go away, then we’ll have to revisit. I know that’s not the most clear answer. But I think going in, we have to wrap our heads around that there is going to be a little bit of a tolerance to a nagging issue, (that) for some time being it’s just not going to feel 100 percent.”

Cash said Choi would receive treatment on the knee Wednesday and be reevaluated Thursday. Choi was 6-for-23 with seven strikeouts in six rehab games.

Yankees up to seven positive cases

The outbreak of positive COVID-19 cases among the Yankees’ traveling party was up to seven by late Wednesday afternoon, including coaches Matt Blake (pitching), Phil Nevin (third base), Reggie Willits (first base) and four staff members.

Plus, shortstop Gleyber Torres was held out of the lineup pending a review of his latest test results.

“It’s been a little bit hectic,” manager Aaron Boone said, noting team personnel have been tested three times in the last 24 hours.

Boone said all seven had been fully vaccinated and six of the seven were asymptomatic. He said all were quarantining, some at the team hotel in Tampa and others at residences they have in the area.

Despite the high number of cases, Major League Baseball was comfortable with the game being played based on contact-tracing showing players were not involved and because the Yankees had already exceeded the 85-percent threshold for vaccinations in the traveling party.

Boone said the Yankees are trying to figure out how they had so many breakthrough cases. “In some of these cases, it’s probably been a false positive along the way or maybe somebody with antibodies or a certain shedding that goes on that can show up in a given test,” he said. “A little above my pay grade.”

Cash said the communication from the Yankees on the issue has been good, as was the direction from MLB.

“(We) trust that we’ve got some very intelligent people and the right doctors that are advising the right way to go about things,” he said.


• Pitcher Michael Wacha, eligible to return from the injured list Thursday, instead will test his previously tight right hamstring in a 25-30-pitch bullpen session and could return during the weekend.

Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene

Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene

Subscribe to our free Sports Today newsletter

We’ll send you news and analysis on the Bucs, Lightning, Rays and Florida’s college football teams every day.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

• Cash said reliever Diego Castillo, sidelined by groin tightness, is feeling good and on track to be activated when eligible Friday. Cash also said catcher Francisco Mejia, out with left rib cage soreness, was “feeling significantly better.” Mejia is eligible Sunday and Cash said they are “pretty optimistic where he is.”

• • •

Sign up for the Rays Report weekly newsletter to get fresh perspectives on the Tampa Bay Rays and the rest of the majors from sports columnist John Romano.

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.