The Rays have been without backstop Mike Zunino for a week, as he landed on the injured list with left shoulder inflammation last Friday. The club has worked to pin down the diagnosis in recent days, and manager Kevin Cash indicated yesterday that Zunino may be dealing with thoracic outlet syndrome (via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times). He’ll receive a Botox injection in hopes of alleviating the symptoms, and the club expects to have a more defined treatment program by next week.
If the injection doesn’t have the desired effect, it’s possible Zunino would need surgery to address the issue. A thoracic outlet procedure would come with a months-long rehab process and end his 2022 campaign. TOS surgery has become more prevalent around the league in recent years, although it’s been a far more common issue for pitchers than for position players. The Rays have relied on a Francisco Mejía – René Pinto pairing behind the dish in Zunino’s absence, and a long-term or season-ending issue could inspire them to turn to the trade market for help. Tampa Bay could arguably stand to upgrade even if Zunino is able to rehab and work his way back quickly, as the impending free agent is hitting only .148/.195/.304 through 36 games this season.
The latest developments on some other notable injury situations around the game:
- The Dodgers placed Walker Buehler on the injured list last week after the righty was diagnosed with a flexor strain in his forearm. Shortly after landing on the shelf, Buehler underwent an arthroscopic procedure to remove a bone spur from his elbow, he told reporters this week (via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register and Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times). The two-time All-Star indicated he’s been pitching through the spur for years and decided it best to remove it while he’s already shut down from throwing because of the flexor issue. The procedure isn’t expected to affect his recovery timeline, and Buehler reiterated he expects to be back on a major league mound 10-12 weeks from now. It’s not clear whether he’ll have enough time to build up as a prototypical starter for the stretch run, but if all goes as planned, he should be available as a postseason weapon for manager Dave Roberts.
- Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff will join Triple-A Nashville for a rehab start tomorrow, tweets Will Sammon of the Athletic. It’ll be the first of two likely minor league appearances before the right-hander is set to return to American Family Field. Woodruff has been out since suffering a right high ankle sprain in late May. While he recovered quite quickly from the leg issue, he was dealt a bit of a setback when a battle with Raynaud’s syndrome — a condition that causes decreased blood flow to a person’s fingers — resulted in some numbness on his throwing hand. Fortunately, he was able to restart a throwing program within days and is apparently in good enough shape to progress to game action.