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Rays Notes: Baz, Walls, Caminero


The Rays got back into the win column with tonight’s 5-2 win over the Rangers.  Tampa Bay broke things open with a four-run fifth inning, highlighted by a three-run home run from Isaac Paredes.  On the pitching end, Zach Eflin limited the World Series champs to one earned run on five hits and a walk over 6 1/3 innings while striking out five.

With good news on the field today, the injury updates were a little more mixed, as you’ll see in this selection of Rays notes…

  • Shane Baz will be re-evaluated Thursday after manager Kevin Cash said the right-hander “felt his oblique again a little bit” after throwing a live batting practice.  Cash told and other media that it doesn’t seem to be a major concern, though the Rays are being cautious since Baz also had a minor oblique issue in early March.  Selected 12th overall by the Pirates in the 2017 draft, Baz came to the Rays organization as part of the (infamous for Bucs fans) Chris Archer trade at the 2018 deadline, and quickly became one of baseball’s most highly-touted pitching prospects.  Baz had a 4.02 ERA over 40 1/3 innings in 2021-22 before being sidelined by arthroscopic elbow surgery and then an elbow sprain, which ultimately resulted in a Tommy John surgery in September 2022.  Since the Rays plan to ease him back into action with a limited innings count, Baz’s offseason prep has been moving at a different pace, with his oblique problems also acting some bumps in the road.  If all goes well, Baz might be able to make his return to the majors in the middle or back half of May.
  • Taylor Walls is also recovering from a significant surgery, as the shortstop had a hip procedure last October that has kept him on the injured list to begin the season.  However, Cash said the Rays’ plan to start Walls in extended Spring Training by mid-April looks to be on track after Walls got a “very good report” after a recent doctor visit.  Depending on how much time Walls needs to get ready, late May or early June looks like a reasonable start date for his 2024 debut.  The fact that Tampa Bay put him on the 10-day IL and not the 60-day IL at the start of the season indicates some hopefulness on the club’s part that Walls can indeed return before May is over.  The defensive specialist has only hit .189/.289/.304 in 991 career Major League plate appearances, though it is certainly possible the long-lingering nature of Walls’ hip problems impacted his offensive production.
  • The Rays’ Triple-A affiliate placed Junior Caminero on the seven-day injured list today (retroactive to April 1) due to a left quad strain.  The concern level was high after Caminero was forced out of Sunday’s game and had to be helped off the field, yet Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (X link) indicates that the injury might not be overly serious.  Caminero is widely considered one of baseball’s best prospects, and after debuting with seven MLB games and two postseason games in 2023, the infielder is expected to contribute more to the 26-man roster after he gets some more minor league seasoning.  Caminero’s three games with Durham this season represent his only experience at the Triple-A level, and he only has 226 games of pro experience altogether.

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