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Rays’ Mike Zunino’s arm issue looks to be thoracic outlet syndrome

Notes | Wander Franco is doing better, Brandon Lowe is doing worse, Kevin Kiermaier is doing the same.
The diagnosis on catcher Mike Zunino’s left arm and shoulder issue has shifted to thoracic outlet syndrome, manager Kevin Cash said Thursday.
The diagnosis on catcher Mike Zunino’s left arm and shoulder issue has shifted to thoracic outlet syndrome, manager Kevin Cash said Thursday. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Jun. 17|Updated Jun. 17

NEW YORK — The diagnosis on catcher Mike Zunino’s left arm and shoulder issue has shifted to thoracic outlet syndrome, manager Kevin Cash said. The hope is that a treatment regimen featuring a Botox injection can get him back on the field and avoid season-ending surgery.

Among other injured Rays, there was good news on Wander Franco, bad news on Brandon Lowe and status quo on Kevin Kiermaier.

Zunino was sidelined last week due to weakness and tingling in his arm, and the search for the cause included shoulder and neck issues.

“It sounds like we’re back on the thoracic outlet avenue,” Cash said. “He saw (Dr. Tom Tolli Wednesday). I think we’re going to attempt the Botox injection and see if that helps. We won’t know. It’s generally three to six days after to see if (it helps).

“So not a ton of information other than that, ‘Look, we think we found something but we’re not 100 percent behind it.’”

If the Botox regimen doesn’t help or if it only provides short-term relief, surgery could be the next step and likely would sideline Zunino for the rest of the season.

Franco, sidelined since May 31 by a right quad strain and limited before that, has been running well and showing enough improvement to go through full workouts Thursday and Friday in Port Charlotte. He potentially could serve as a designated hitter in a Florida Complex League on Saturday. Once ready to play the field, he likely will need to play several rehab games.

Lowe, out since May 16 due to a stress reaction in his low back, will be shut down from swinging at least through the weekend after feeling discomfort taking swings. Cash said he “wouldn’t call it a setback” and that the doctor wasn’t “overly concerned. He said Lowe would rest and “take some medicine” with the hope that he feels better on Monday.

Kiermaier said the tight left Achilles/calf that forced him from Wednesday’s game felt “maybe slightly better” and after getting rest and treatment Thursday he hoped to return to the lineup Friday in Baltimore. “We’ll just kind of see how it goes,” he said.

Comeback kid

Shane Baz will start Friday against the Orioles a year older (turning 23 that day) and a few days wiser after some good work with pitching coach Kyle Snyder after a rough season debut Saturday in Minnesota. Baz, who was sidelined after March arthroscopic elbow surgery, retired the first six Twins but was lifted after allowing the first six batters in the third inning to reach base and five to score. He said there are no mechanical or physical changes needed, just a focus on throwing more strikes. “It’s just more of an approach and a commitment to filling up the strike zone,” Baz said.

Miscellany

Ji-Man Choi went 0-for-2 with two walks, ending his career-best 13-game hitting streak. … Luis Patino, out since early April with an oblique strain, went 2-2/3 innings, throwing 46 pitches, in his first rehab start for Triple-A Durham. ... The Rays were swept for the first time since a two-game set at Washington June 29-30, 2021, and in a three-or-more game series since June 17-20, 2021 at Seattle. ... Friday’s first pitch in Baltimore is at 6:05 p.m. due to a postgame concert featuring Flo Rida. ... Major League Baseball reviewed Wednesday’s 16-minute delay, according to the New York Daily News, and reiterated to umpires to be quicker in reaching out to the replay center in rules-check situations.

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