The Rays announced today that they have placed primary backstop Mike Zunino on the 10-day injured list due to left shoulder inflammation. Catcher Rene Pinto has been recalled from Triple-A Durham to claim the vacancy on the active roster.
Reports had suggested Zunino may have been dealing with this issue for a while, but it appears this injury is fairly recent and affects the other side of the slugger's upper half. Kevin Cash had explained during spring training that Zunino was dealing with what he called " a cranky right shoulder" as reported by Mark Topkin.
Regardless it would be wise to assume shoulder injuries could have been affecting Zunino's performance this season. As evidenced by his career .200/.271/.410 slash line, the Rays were not expecting him to be a primary offensive weapon aside from power. Even with that considered Zunino has been a far cry from even those heights this season. His dismal .148/.195/.304 has provided the Rays with a major hole in the batting order at the catcher position.
In his place, Francisco Mejia will figure to get the majority of playing time behind the plate. A well-regarded prospect a few years back, Mejia has continued to struggle to find consistency with his bat at the MLB level. He owns a .235/.241/.377 slash. While he has been able to mash lefties with a .938 OPS, he is overmatched by righties so far in 2022 with a .479 OPS.
It seems the biggest hit to the Rays won't be to the offense but to the defense while Zunino is out. He ranks as an above-average pitch framer, while Mejia has been poor in that regard his whole career. Rene Pinto while it seems his bat may play decent he too has had questions about his work behind the plate called in to question MLB.com notes that he lacks in the area of game calling and blocking pitches. On the positive side all of the catchers listed do have strong throwing arms although they have struggled to throw out baserunners on occasion.
Zunino becomes the third Rays player in the last week to hit the injured list. He joins JP Feyereisen( right shoulder impingement) and Andrew Kittridge( right elbow discomfort). Kittredge's injury was later revealed to need surgery for loose bodies.