ST. PETERSBURG — Just as things are starting to turn around, the Rays hit another bump.
After snapping a five-game losing streak Friday night, Tampa Bay had to place Taylor Walls on the injured list with a strained left oblique and expect him to be out anywhere from three to six weeks.
“Obviously very unfortunate. Wallsy does so many things to help us win games,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Saturday’s game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. “There’s a level of concern there because we had to put him on the IL. I think he tried to manage it a little bit, felt it and then it gradually got worse. So he’s going to miss some time. I don’t have the best sense. I mean three to six weeks, four to six weeks, whatever it is.”
Walls said he first felt tightness Wednesday in Texas. Friday night, it just did not go away.
“Sore. Tight. I guess as expected, it was just kind of something that gradually got tighter and tighter and then throughout the game and it got worse and the next day it was never better,” Walls said. “So I guess just to be cautious, they thought that we should go ahead and get it looked at and ended up being worse than what we were hoping.”
Walls, who said doctors just recommended rest, had a similar strain on the right side during spring training.
“It’s just do what I can to recover, try to get treatment and try to get some strength back whenever the symptoms are gone and try to get back as fast as possible,” Walls said.
The Rays recalled Vidal Brujan to take Walls’ roster spot.
His loss will definitely be felt on defense, where the versatile Walls shines.
“Pretty big impact. Look, we’re really fortunate that we have to (Brandon) Lowe back healthy. (Isaac) Paredes, the season he’s putting together and then Wander (Franco),” Cash said. “But Wallsy, to be able to plug him in anywhere and to know that you’re getting as good a defense in the dirt as anybody in baseball. And to not have that for, let’s call it a month, give or take. It is frustrating, but we’re just going to have to make do.”
It was the second straight day the Rays lost a player to injury. Catcher Francisco Mejia went on the IL Friday with a sprained MCL in his left knee.
With his shot in Friday night’s win over the Orioles, Jose Siri reached the 20-home run club for the first time in his career. The Rays had hoped he would be a solid replacement for Kevin Kiermaier — who was injured and heading into free agency — defensively when they traded for him last August, but they are thrilled they have gotten an even better offensive return.
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In 63 games, Siri is hitting .229 with a .272 on-base and .546 slugging percentage.
“He’s put together a really good season,” Cash said. “If somebody would have looked at me and said, ‘Hey, this is where he is going to be at 100-plus games,’ I would have been really, really happy. So good for Jose. He’s worked hard with finding that consistent power stroke. I think he’s got it. He’s picked us up with some big, big home runs and he’s played really, really good defense.”
Siri, who turned 28 on Saturday, has the third-best at-bat-to-homer ratio (10.7) in the majors this season. He trails only Aaron Judge (9.2) and Shohei Ohtani (10.4).
Lefty Josh Fleming pitched two hitless, scoreless innings with two strikeouts for the Florida Complex League on Saturday. He will pitch in a rehab game again on Thursday, but there is no return timetable. He has been on the injured list with left elbow inflammation since June 6. ... The Rays dropped to an American League-worst 4-13 in July and are 0-for-5 in one-run games this month. ... Wander Franco matched a season high with three RBIs. After being caught stealing in the sixth inning, he is just 6 for his last 11 in stolen base attempts dating to June 14. He started the season going 22-for-27.
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