Rays manager Kevin Cash announced Friday that outfielder Manuel Margot has been diagnosed with a “significant patellar tendon strain” but will not require surgery (Twitter link via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times). It’s relatively good news, particularly as Cash confirmed prior reports that the team initially feared Margot had suffered a torn ACL. Cash did not put a specific timetable on Margot’s rehab but did say the organization’s hope is that he’ll return at some point this season.
While the possibility of a 2022 return is a decidedly better outlook than that of a season-ending ACL tear, it’s still a tough blow for a Rays club that now has five members of its Opening Day lineup on the injured list. Margot, who’s already been moved to the 60-day IL, joins Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, Kevin Kiermaier and Mike Zunino on the IL. Currently, the Rays are utilizing an outfield of Randy Arozarena, Brett Phillips and Josh Lowe. Harold Ramirez could see some additional outfield time in Margot’s absence, though he’s been used more as a designated hitter and first baseman this year. Luke Raley, recently recalled from Triple-A Durham, is another option. He’s yet to get into a big league game but has torn through Triple-A pitching so far in 2022.
Margot’s injury, sustained while attempting a leaping catch at the right field wall, will disrupt what has been far and away the finest season of his big league career. The 27-year-old has taken exactly 200 plate appearances and turned in a .302/.365/.423 batting line with three homers, 11 doubles, a triple and five steals (in six tries).
Margot’s departure subtracts one of the Rays’ most productive bats from the lineup and, perhaps as crucially, also robs them of one of the game’s best defensive outfielders. Though defensive metrics on him so far in 2022 have been roughly average, Margot ranked 13th with 41 Defensive Runs Saved and seventh with 51 Outs Above Average among all big league outfielders from 2016-21.