Ryan Hanigan has been battling a hamstring injury for the past couple of weeks. He took a couple of days rest, and while he wasn’t 100%, it seemed he was going to be able to play while slowly working his way to full strength. But in Monday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Hanigan re-aggravated his injury. The Tampa Bay Rays were forced to call-up Ali Solis as a third catcher with Hanigan out for the next few days while hoping to avoid the DL. But, the smart move for Rays would be to cut their losses and put Hanigan on the DL.
Hamstring injuries are pesky. A minor one can be played on, but it affects performance and is easy to aggravate even further. All of that is compounded for a catcher, who is forced to squat down for long periods of time. Right now, it is not worth risking that Hanigan turns a minor injury into a more significant one. Best case scenario is that he receives a 4-5 days of rest and then is back to normal. But with the nature of hamstring injuries, it is worth putting him on the 15-day DL to ensure that he is healthy for the rest of the season. It is not worth the risk, even if it is a small one, of having him play through the injury only to make it worse down the line just so that he can play in an extra week’s worth of games. With the Rays having poor catching depth, especially given Jose Molina‘s struggles at the plate, they can ill-afford a more serious injury to Hanigan.
If the Rays did put Hanigan on the DL, which is looking increasingly likely, though not a slam dunk, calling up Curt Casali would be smart. Admittedly, Solis is the right choice for the Rays current plan of resting Hanigan for a couple of days. There is no reason to burn one of Casali’s three options to catch just one or two games. But, if Hanigan were to be put on the shelf for two or three weeks, Casali would become the better choice. Solis is a capable defender, but he can’t hit and is a fairly mediocre player overall. Casali, on the other hand, may not quite be where Solis is on defense, but he isn’t far off and his bat has ten times the ability that Solis’ does. There is little argument that Casali is not the better player, and if the Rays were faced with Hanigan being out for the long-term, then bringing up Casali is the best move.
In the end, the Rays need to just put Ryan Hanigan on the DL and make sure that he is rested. Especially with the Rays not having great catching depth, it is not worth risking a more significant injury to Hanigan for him to avoid a quick DL trip. Calling up Curt Casali would be the smart move if Hanigan indeed went on the disabled list. The Tampa Bay Rays have made some questionable roster management decisions this year- lets just hope that they get this one right.