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Mike Zunino confident he’ll be ready to join Rays for opener

Notes | Rest should be enough to get the catcher’s shoulder feeling better; Ryan Yarbrough works into the fifth inning.
Rays catcher Mike Zunino said his sore and inflamed right shoulder feels better after a couple days of rest.
Rays catcher Mike Zunino said his sore and inflamed right shoulder feels better after a couple days of rest. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Apr. 1

PORT CHARLOTTE — Mike Zunino said his sore and inflamed right shoulder feels better after a couple days of rest.

And thus the Rays feel better about having their All-Star catcher on the active roster when they open the season next Friday.

What was a major concern a few days ago seems to have been alleviated after Zunino underwent an MRI (which showed no structural damage), was examined by team orthopedist Dr. Koco Eaton and received a cortisone shot.

“All good,” Zunino said. “It was one of those things where we just wanted to err on the side of caution with doing that. … Had a couple of days (off), and ready to get back at it.”

Throwing is the concern for additional irritation, so Zunino will focus more for now on catching pitchers and taking swings, with plans to be the designated hitter on Saturday and Sunday, then gradually test his shoulder.

“As we go out and go through some more activities and stuff, we’ll obviously see,” he said. “But we’ll continue to go out there and test it, and I’m feeling pretty confident in it.”

Said manager Kevin Cash: “He’ll be ready.”

Yarbrough goes deep

Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough worked into the fifth inning of Friday’s 9-3 win over the Red Sox, throwing 70 pitches.
Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough worked into the fifth inning of Friday’s 9-3 win over the Red Sox, throwing 70 pitches. [ ARIELLE BADER | Special to the Times ]

With all the concern about starters not having enough time to get ready in the abbreviated spring training, Ryan Yarbrough worked into the fifth inning of Friday’s 9-3 win over the Red Sox. He threw 70 pitches and feels good about where he is. “Especially with so many unknowns about how guys are going to feel in being built up, the fact that I’ve been feeling good and, knock on wood, that they’ve been letting me kind of continue to build up that way is very encouraging,” he said. Yarbrough, who hit three batters, is slated to pitch in the final exhibition Wednesday at Tropicana Field, which would seem to slot him for the fifth spot in the rotation and the potential to throw close to 90 pitches.

Game recap: Rays 9, Red Sox 3

The Rays continued to swing hot bats, beating up on ex-mate Rich Hill, including a six-run third inning, in improving to 5-7-2. “Just a lot of good at-bats, a lot of deep counts where guys were fouling off pitches,” Cash said. ... Free-agent signee Jason Adam furthered his bid for a bullpen spot, striking out Alex Verdugo, Christian Vazquez and Rob Refsnyder. “(He) continues to impress,” Cash said. “The fastball, but obviously the off-speed pitches that he’s just gaining a lot of confidence with.” Adam said he felt he has made a good case: “I think at this point it’s kind of out of our hands — all the guys that are in-betweeners. ... Whatever (coaches) decide, they decide.” ... Reliever Andrew Kittredge had his fourth straight scoreless outing. … Harold Ramirez, Brandon Lowe, Austin Meadows and Taylor Walls each had two hits.

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Miscellany

Ramirez, normally an outfielder/DH, looked good enough taking ground balls at first base on Thursday that he will do so again Saturday and is likely play there on Sunday. “(Infield coach) Rodney (Linares) was encouraged, (said) that he definitely looked comfortable over there,” Cash said. … The Rays continue to use the PitchCom electronic signaling device, awaiting word from MLB on whether it will be approved for the regular season. …. Cash said he was “fairly indifferent” about MLB keeping the rule that places a runner at second base to start each extra inning but was “sensitive to the pitcher” that has to deal with it.

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