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Shane McClanahan struggles again, says he has tightness in forearm

The All-Star lefty posts a sixth straight winless start after working only four innings against the Yankees.
 
Rays starting pitcher Shane McClanahan reacts following a three-run home run by the Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton in the third inning of Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
Rays starting pitcher Shane McClanahan reacts following a three-run home run by the Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton in the third inning of Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. [ FRANK FRANKLIN II | AP ]
Published Aug. 3, 2023|Updated Aug. 3, 2023

NEW YORK — Shane McClanahan’s latest rough outing in the Rays’ 7-2 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday wasn’t the biggest concern.

McClanahan, the two-time All-Star, felt tightness on the outside of his left forearm warming up for his fourth and final inning and will fly back to Tampa on Thursday for examination and evaluation by team doctors.

“I kind of felt it in warmups,” McClanahan said. “It just grabbed and wouldn’t let go, and I was like, ‘This is kind of interesting.’ ... I’m not going to speculate. I’m not going to make any assumptions. We’re just going to take it day by day and see what what comes up.”

Manager Kevin Cash, noting most significant elbow/forearm issues are felt on the inside of the arm, said “as we speak right now I’m not overly concerned. We’ll certainly do right by him and get him checked out and go from there.”

The loss ended the Rays’ modest run of three straight wins and four or five as they headed out for a late-night flight to Detroit, where they have an off-day Thursday and then a weekend series with the Tigers. The Rays dropped to 66-45, and remained 1½ games behind American East-leading Baltimore, which lost to Toronto.

McClanahan, 26, appeared to be healthy based on the radar-gun readings on Wednesday, which showed him hitting 99 miles per hour four times and averaging 97.3 with his fastball, with an overall uptick in velocity on all his pitches.

But that has been the case during much of his six-start stretch without a win that began when he left the June 22 game against the Royals and reported mid-back tightness.

Over the six starts since, he is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA, with 24 strikeouts and eight walks in 25⅔ innings, allowing 30 hits, including five homers. Plus, his workload has been limited, as he went only 3⅔, three, six, four, five and four innings, and did a 16-day stint on the injured list.

In the 15 starts before that, McClanahan was 11-1 with a 2.12 ERA, with 97 strikeouts and 33 walks in 89⅓ innings, allowing 65 hits including 10 home runs.

McClanahan looked strong to start Wednesday’s game, retiring the first six Yankeesafter being handed a 2-0 lead when Wander Franco hit a career-long 431-foot home run, with an exit velocity of 108.9 mph, off Yankees ace Gerrit Cole in the first.

But McClanahan faltered badly in the third inning, allowing five runs on a pair of homers.

He allowed a leadoff double to Harrison Bader, then a homer to No. 8-hitting rookie Anthony Volpe that made it 2-2. McClanahan then gave up a one-out single to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, a two-out single to Gleyber Torres, and a 408-foot three-run home run to right-centerfield to Giancarlo Stanton.

Yankees struggling power hitter Giancarlo Stanton, right, celebrates with Gleyber Torres after both scored on Stanton's three-run home run during the third inning of their team's 7-2 triumph Wednesday against the Rays.
Yankees struggling power hitter Giancarlo Stanton, right, celebrates with Gleyber Torres after both scored on Stanton's three-run home run during the third inning of their team's 7-2 triumph Wednesday against the Rays. [ FRANK FRANKLIN II | AP ]
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For his four-inning night, he allowed the five runs on five hits, walking none and striking out three, throwing 82 pitches to get the 12 outs, 52 for strikes.

Both home runs were on fastballs left over the plate, and McClanahan said that was an indication of his extended struggles.

“Probably just execution of pitches, getting ahead,” he said. “I didn’t walk anybody, but I probably threw too (much) middle-middle stuff, middle-middle fastballs or changeups, whatever. Just got to be better with execution.”

Plus, Cash said, the hitters were looking for fastballs in those situations.

But the potential of a forearm/elbow injury would change that perspective. McClanahan, who had Tommy John elbow surgery as a freshman at USF in 2016, said he didn’t want to discuss any possible scenarios, good or bad, until he sees Dr. Koco Eaton and has imaging done.

“It’s one of those things where the outside of it just kind of got tight, kind of grabbed me a little bit,” he said. “I don’t want to speculate. Adrenaline is a beautiful thing. Yeah, we’re not going to speculate. We’re going see what it says.”

Cash noted that given the high pitch count, McClanahan was likely done after four innings anyway, but “he said it tightened up and now we’ve got to see what the doctors say.”

McClanahan wasn’t the only Ray with an injury issue as outfielder/first baseman Luke Raley left in the fourth inning after fouling a ball off the inside of his right knee.

“It’s sore, but hopefully with the off-day (Thursday), I can get back up there on Friday,” he said.

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