The Rays reinstated right-hander Luis Patiño from the 60-day injured list, optioning Tommy Romero to Triple-A Durham in a corresponding move. In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, catcher Mike Zunino has been transferred from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list.
Patiño missed around three months after straining his oblique during his first start of the season. The 22-year-old returns to action with a start tonight against the surging Orioles. Acquired as part of the Blake Snell swap over the 2020-21 offseason, Patiño started 15 of his 19 appearances during his first year in Tampa Bay. He worked to a 4.31 ERA across 77 1/3 innings, striking out a roughly average 22.2% of opponents against a serviceable 8.7% walk rate. Patiño was a bit home run prone, but it was still a promising showing for a pitcher who won’t turn 23 years old until October.
Tampa Bay has been navigating a brutal stretch of health issues on the pitching side. They still have eight pitchers on the 60-day injured list, and three more (Jeffrey Springs, Josh Fleming and Shane Baz) have landed on the 15-day IL within the past week. Fleming and Baz are each set to miss significant time; the former is likely to lose upwards of a month due to an oblique strain of his own, while the latter won’t even throw for at least four weeks after spraining his elbow.
It hasn’t been much rosier on the position player side, as Zunino is one of five regulars on the shelf. The veteran backstop has been out since June 10 with left shoulder inflammation. The club has expressed concern he could be dealing with a thoracic outlet issue, although he’s undergone Botox treatment in hopes of avoiding season-ending surgery. In either event, Zunino doesn’t seem close to a return to the field, so his IL transfer isn’t much of a surprise. He’ll be ineligible to return to the big leagues before the second week of August.
Zunino had struggled before his IL stint, hitting a career-worst .148/.195/.304 through 36 games. That’s particularly disappointing on the heels of a 33-homer 2021 campaign, and he’s headed towards free agency on the heels of what looks like a mostly lost season. The Rays have turned to Francisco Mejía and the recently-acquired Christian Bethancourt as their pairing behind the dish in his absence.