5:21 pm: Cash didn’t sound particularly optimistic regarding Johnson’s prognosis, noting that the righty’s shoulder injury is “pretty severe” and will require him to miss “substantial time” (via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times).
1:37 pm: The Rays announced a series of roster moves, including the reinstatement of outfielder Randy Arozarena from the COVID-related injury list and the placement of right-hander DJ Johnson on the 10-day injured list due to a right shoulder sprain. While these transactions were expected, the club also announced that southpaw Ryan Yarbrough has been placed on the COVID-19 list. Righty Louis Head has been recalled from Triple-A to take Yarbrough’s roster spot.
League rules don’t require Yarbrough’s exact situation to be made public, so it isn’t known whether or not the lefty has tested positive for the coronavirus himself, or if he is being held out as a precautionary measure due to contact tracing or symptoms. (Yarbrough had another brief one-day stint on the COVID-IL earlier this season due to vaccine side effects.) Whatever the reason, it would now seem unlikely that Yarbrough will make his next scheduled start on Wednesday against the Red Sox, so the Rays may need to go with a bullpen game in this key AL East matchup.
Yarbrough has a 4.76 ERA/4.26 SIERA over 119 innings, usually working as a traditional starting pitcher but also making a few appearances as a bulk pitcher behind an opener. The southpaw is among the league’s best pitchers at limiting hard contact and avoiding walks, though his 19.6% strikeout rate is far below average.
Arozarena returns after just a few days on the COVID-IL for being a close contact to a positive case. Head is also back in the big leagues in short order after being optioned to Triple-A over the weekend, as teams are able to make quick recalls of players in the event of injury.
Johnson’s shoulder problem arose during Sunday’s game, with the right-hander falling to the ground after throwing a pitch. Manager Kevin Cash ominously reported that Johnson said he felt a crack in his shoulder, though further tests revealed only a sprain rather than a more serious injury. Johnson was making his third appearance for Tampa Bay after being acquired in a deadline deal with the Indians.