Rays’ Ryan Thompson out, Brandon Lowe in limbo, Shane McClanahan on mound

Notes | Reliever’s season is over due to elbow issue. Second baseman is having back problems. Top starter is feeling frisky.
Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Ryan Thompson (81) pitches in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field  in St. Petersburg on Thursday, August 25, 2022.
Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Ryan Thompson (81) pitches in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Thursday, August 25, 2022. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Sept. 15, 2022

TORONTO — While the Rays are excited to welcome All-Star Shane McClanahan back to their rotation Thursday, they will be without reliever Ryan Thompson for the rest of the season and don’t know when, or potentially if, they will get second baseman Brandon Lowe back in their lineup.

The biggest news Wednesday was the loss of Thompson, who was originally sidelined in late August due to right triceps inflammation with a target of returning after the minimum 15 days on the injured list.

But Thompson felt discomfort in his elbow while throwing and was diagnosed with a stress reaction that will require him to be shut down, with the expectation he will be ready for spring training.

“He’s done (for the year),’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “His arm doesn’t feel good.’’

When healthy, the sidearmer can be an effective weapon against right-handers; in 47 games this season he was 3-3 with a 3.80 ERA and three saves. His 2021 season also ended early due to injury.

The concerning news was that Lowe is having issues with his back in the same area that led to him being sidelined from mid-May to mid-July.

Cash said an MRI exam Wednesday showed “a little inflammation in a similar area as the previous injury.’’ Lowe saw team back specialist Tom Tolli on Wednesday and is headed to Nashville for a second opinion to decide on a treatment plan, with the hope he can return this season.

“I don’t know how long he’s going to be out,’’ Cash said. “We’re going to let some doctors put their heads together and see what the next course is.’’

The good news was how well McClanahan recovered from the left shoulder impingement that surfaced during his warmups for an Aug. 30 start he had to skip, especially given the concern raised by the frustration he showed in walking off the bullpen mound in Miami.

“I was very frustrated,’’ McClanahan said. “Obviously with the timing, you’re not sure if it’s season(-ending) or what. Even if it’s minor, a little setback can cause trouble down the road. Ultimately the frustration led to optimism, and obviously I had to curb that a little bit and stay level-headed and just trust the process.’’

A cortisone shot administered the next day by Koco Eaton worked well, creating what McClanahan said was a “best-case scenario” from then on. “We did it smartly,’’ he said. “I think I’m in a good spot going forward.’’

Cash said McClanahan “certainly” will be limited in his first start since Aug. 24. “We’ll be very mindful of his workload,’ Cash said.

Also, Brendan McKay had what the team said was successful Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, targeting a 2024 return to the mound.


With the Rays’ 5-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday, the Rays have 63 losses, one more than last season. … Fourteen players and two coaches will wear No. 21 on Thursday as part of league-wide Roberto Clemente Day activities. … Cash said Tyler Glasnow (Tommy John surgery) came through Tuesday’s second rehab start well and will make “multiple” additional outings with Triple-A Durham. … Wander Franco was the DH on Wednesday to get off his feet after playing both games of Tuesday’s doubleheader on the turf. … With his 30th base stolen Tuesday, Randy Arozarena said his primary focus now is hitting the home run he needs to get to 20. ... Both Class A teams made the postseason: High A Bowling Green plays Game 2 of the best-of-three South Atlantic League semifinals Thursday against Rome (Braves) after losing the opener; Low A Charleston has a 1-0 lead over Myrtle Beach (Cubs) in the Carolina League semifinals going to Game 2 on Thursday.

• • •

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.