MIAMI — Ace Shane McClanahan didn’t feel right warming up Tuesday, unable to get his left shoulder loose. So minutes before the game against the Marlins was to start, he and his Rays bosses decided he would not pitch.
As ominous as that seemed, and as concern over the 25-year-old’s future spread, the initial diagnosis of an impingement was somewhat encouraging. Both McClanahan and manager Kevin Cash said they’re “optimistic” he will not miss much time.
If an MRI and further evaluation planned for Wednesday confirm an impingement in the rotator cuff, and if a cortisone shot — the usual course of treatment — helps, McClanahan could potentially miss just two weeks and return in his usual form.
“We’re actually pretty optimistic about it,” McClanahan said. “We don’t think it’s anything major, hopefully. And I think we’re going to be all right. ... We’ve got to get some more clarity on it, do some further stuff. But as of right now, I think ‘cautiously optimistic’ is the right word for it.”
A shoulder impingement is defined as pinching/rubbing of the rotator cuff due to swelling and inflammation. It can increase with the elevation of the arm and further decrease the space for the tendon to sit in.
The Rays have been trying to monitor what will be a career-high workload for McClanahan. But the USF product has insisted he has felt fine. Cash said they had talked about limiting him to three innings in Tuesday’s game, a plan they used earlier this year with Drew Rasmussen in advance of an upcoming off day.
McClanahan said he had no issues in his last outing and considered Tuesday’s discomfort “one of those freak days.”
Cash said he has been dealing “with what all pitchers with 140 innings deal with” and lauded McClanahan for consulting with coaches Kyle Snyder and Stan Boroski during his warmups. Reliever Shawn Armstrong stepped in and worked three innings as the Rays used six additional relievers in the 7-2 win.
“Just couldn’t get loose, just something, couldn’t put my finger on it,” McClanahan said. “We just decided to err on the side of caution and just kind of pull the plug just in case.”
Bally Sports Sun video showed McClanahan stepping back from the bullpen mound, gesturing toward his arm and consulting with the coaches, then being consoled by Boroski.
“I was pissed,” McClanahan said. “Very pissed. I want that ball every single chance I can get it. And ultimately we talked about it and we didn’t want to take the risk of jeopardizing the big picture for one or two starts.”
Cash said they feel are “fairly optimistic” he won’t miss much more than that with a short injured list stint.
Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene
Subscribe to our free Sports Today newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
“I’m personally confident that he is going to be OK,” Cash said.
McClanahan has been one of the best pitchers in the majors this season, posting an 11-5 record with a 2.20 ERA. He started the All-Star Game for the American League. After a series of post-All-Star break starts that weren’t up to his usual standard, McClanahan last Wednesday worked six shutout innings against the Angels.
McClanahan had Tommy John surgery as a freshman at USF, missing the 2016 season, but no previous shoulder issues.
• • •
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.