It’s been a rough 24 hours for the Rays’ catching tandem, as Michael Perez was placed on the 10-day injured list due to a right oblique tightness while Mike Zunino exited Wednesday’s game due to a tight left quadriceps. Tampa Bay had recalled Nick Ciuffo from Triple-A Durham prior to the game, so he was able to step in for Zunino late in today’s game.
But, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times points out, Zunino, Perez and Ciuffo are the only three catchers on the Rays’ 40-man roster. With Perez out and Zunino ailing, there’s little in the way of depth on which to call. And, if Zunino ultimately proves to require a stint on the injured list, the situation will be exacerbated, even if only for a short period of time. Topkin suggests that 29-year-old Anthony Bemboom could be added to the 40-man roster if a need arises, but he’s only played eight games in the minors this year since returning from his own injury.
In terms of readily available help outside the organization, there simply isn’t much available. While veteran catchers Travis d’Arnaud, Drew Butera and Jesus Sucre all lost their roster spots recently, none is available on the open market or waivers. The Dodgers signed d’Arnaud after he was released by the Mets, while both Butera (Rockies) and Sucre (Orioles) accepted outright assignments with the clubs that designated them for assignment. Tampa Bay is as active as nearly any club on the trade market, so perhaps they’d swing a deal for a short-term veteran stopgap should Zunino require an absence of any note.
The Rays are off on Thursday, and Zunino will undergo further testing tomorrow with the hope that he won’t need to miss much (or any) time. If he needs to sit out for even a few games, it seems likely the Rays will have a 40-man roster move in the works in the near future.