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Rays catcher Francisco Mejia heads to injured list

Mejia sprained the MCL in his left knee trying to make a tag at home plate Thursday night.
 
The Rays expect to be without catcher Francisco Mejia three to six weeks, with Rene Pinto getting the callup.
The Rays expect to be without catcher Francisco Mejia three to six weeks, with Rene Pinto getting the callup. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published July 21, 2023|Updated July 21, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays took another loss before Friday’s game even started. Francisco Mejia was placed on the injured list with a sprained MCL in his left knee and is expected to miss three to six weeks. The catcher left Thursday night’s game with the injury.

“I think we’re optimistic because there’s no surgery required. So it’s more of a rehab, rest, rehab, get some treatment, and then we’ll probably revisit and see where he’s at in two weeks,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said before the game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. “But I think in fairness from the original, it was probably anywhere from three to six weeks. It just depends on each guy, you know, responds a little differently to treatment.”

Mejia said that he has had this injury before and expects to miss a few weeks. He knew immediately when he tried to tag Anthony Santander in the fourth inning of Thursday night’s loss that something was wrong.

“I tried to turn towards him, and my knee just got stuck between me and him,” Mejia said via Rays communications manager Elvis Martinez. “It’s just like I felt something then and then kept playing through it, but then I hit a ground ball and tried to run to first, and that’s when I felt it the most.”

The Rays called up Rene Pinto, who missed the last month with Triple A because of a bruised hand. He was on a rehab assignment in Sarasota on Friday morning when he got the call to report to the Trop.

Rene Pinto had been on rehab assignment when he got the callup on Friday.
Rene Pinto had been on rehab assignment when he got the callup on Friday. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

“I was hitting in the cage, and they come to me and say, ‘Hey, you gotta go up from here and help the team,’ ” Pinto said. “And now we’re here.”

He had just been sent out on rehab three days before the call, but Cash said he thinks Pinto will be ready if needed. Christian Bethancourt will be able to handle the majority of the work.

“Fortunate that we’ve got CB that can carry a workload. I think Renee is going to be fine with his endurance and all that stuff,” Cash said. “He’ll probably have a little bit of a jolt of adrenaline now that he’s here and hopefully he helps us.”

The 27-year-old Mejia had given the Rays an early lead on an RBI single in the second inning Thursday night. That extended his season-high hitting streak to five games, hitting .357 with two homers and six RBIs.

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