Rays top starter Shane McClanahan sidelined by stiff back

The lefty is expected to miss only one start as a result of what the team says is a very precautionary move.
Shane McClanahan is expected to just miss one start, with a targeted return of Sept. 19.
Shane McClanahan is expected to just miss one start, with a targeted return of Sept. 19. [ WINSLOW TOWNSON | Associated Press ]
Published Sept. 10, 2021|Updated Sept. 11, 2021

DETROIT — What started as a little tightness in Shane McClanahan’s back a few days before his Wednesday start in Boston — and flared up during the game — led the Rays to put their top starter on the injured list Friday and reshuffle their rotation.

But both McClanahan and his bosses seem confident the issue is not major and he will miss only one start, with a targeted return of Sept. 19.

“I think it’s just one of those freak things, September, must have slept wrong, or something, but we’re going to figure it out,” McClanahan said. “I don’t really think anybody’s too worried about it.”

With the rookie lefty out, the Rays re-inserted Chris Archer, who was to pitch in relief Friday or Saturday, back into the rotation and will have him start Saturday against the Tigers.

Luis Patino moves to Sunday, and Ryan Yarbrough now will pitch (likely behind an opener) in Monday’s series opener in Toronto, followed by Drew Rasmussen and Michael Wacha.

McClanahan, 9-5, 3.59 in 22 starts, said the tightness didn’t impact his pitching Wednesday, as he worked five shutout innings, but needed to be addressed.

“Two days before my start at Fenway, just felt a little tight, felt a little weird,” he said. “Got treatment leading up to the start, made the start, felt good in the start. It was just one of those things. Just kind of nagging, wasn’t really pain. But once you stopped moving around between innings, you feel it stiffen up a little bit, you’re like, well, that’s not supposed to be there.”

Given that the Rays have been limiting the 24-year-old’s workload in his first big-league season, the rest may do him good. “Nothing too alarming,” manager Kevin Cash. “I think we need to do right by him.”

Medical matters: Wisler out, Anderson nearly back

Reliever Matt Wisler went back on the injured list due to a recurrence of the right middle finger inflammation that sidelined him for 3 ½ weeks, and the Rays aren’t sure when, or if, he will be back.

Cash said Wisler was seeing team hand specialist, Dr. Doug Carlan, in St. Petersburg on Friday and the best-case scenario was that he would be shut down for 10 days to try to reduce the inflammation and have to then build back up.

“That’s an optimistic outlook,” Cash said.

Nick Anderson, however, is close to a return after his season-long recovery from a spring partial elbow ligament tear.

Anderson joined the team in Detroit on Friday after making 11 appearances for Triple-A Durham and is due to be activated by Sunday when his rehab assignment ends.

“I’m just excited to be here,” Anderson said. “I’m ready to go whenever. … Feeling pretty good right now. … It’s time. I’m back, and am going to try to make the most of it and see what I can do to help the team keep winning.”

To replace McClanahan and Wisler, the Rays recalled relievers Louis Head (for his 11th stint since late April) and lefty Dietrich Enns.

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More moves are coming Saturday, with outfielder Randy Arozarena returning from paternity leave and outfielder Brett Phillips (right ankle sprain) potentially being activated from the injured list.


⋅ To provide potential replacements given protocols getting players into Canada, the Rays added four players to the taxi squad for the Toronto trip: relievers Joey Krehbiel (the Seminole High product) and Ryan Sherriff, infielder Mike Brosseau, catcher David Freitas.

⋅ Wander Franco’s 39-game on-base streak is the second longest in major-league history for players 20 and under, behind Frank Robinson’s 43-game run for the 1956 Reds. Franco also matched the longest single-season streak overall in Rays history, tying Johnny Damon (2011). Tommy Pham has the Rays record at 48 games over the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

⋅ Reliever Ryan Thompson, who has been out since late June with shoulder inflammation, is now being evaluated for potential thoracic outlet syndrome issues, Cash said.

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