Rehab for Rays’ Shane Baz sidetracked by oblique issue

ST. PETERSBURG — Shane Baz’s rehab has been slowed down by another oblique issue. The Rays are counting on the right-hander to return to their rotation this season, though he was shut down last week after “feeling something” in his oblique after pitching in a simulated game.

“We’re going to re-evaluate him, I think Thursday,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said before Tuesday’s game against the Rangers at Tropicana Field. “We’ll check and see. I don’t think it’s anything major, but he did say at the end of his outing that he felt it. So we were going to keep him kind of day-to-day.”

Baz is working his way back from September 2022 Tommy John surgery. The Rays were trying to slow play his return with an innings limit, not expecting him back in the lineup until at least June. He initially “tweaked” his oblique in spring training when he was picking up a weight. That delayed his throwing program slightly.

The Rays’ lack of starting pitching depth already has been exposed in the first week of the season. Through one turn of the rotation, their starters went into Tuesday with a 5.18 ERA, ranked 20th in the majors.

It’s an unusual spot for the Rays, who have a reputation of piling up good pitching depth through the minor leagues and free-agency signings.

Injuries have seriously cut into that depth. They already lost Taj Bradley in spring training to a pectoral muscle strain, which could take him a month or two to come back from. They hope to have Jeffrey Springs, who is coming off 2023 Tommy John surgery, and Drew Rasmussen, who had 2023 elbow surgery, back at some point this season.

Baz, acquired in a trade with the Pirates, has just nine big-league starts, posting a 4.02 ERA. He has struck out 48 and walked 12 over 40 innings pitched.

If you look up ...

Amed Rosario has to remember not to look down. The converted infielder now playing rightfield for the Rays learned very quickly that playing the outfield in Tropicana Field means one good chance at finding the ball against the white ceiling of the dome.

“You have to keep your eye on it; when you find it you have to remember not to look down,” said Rosario, via interpreter Manny Navarro. “If you look down to see where you are, you will lose it and it will be hard to find again.”

Rosario clearly was keeping his eye on the ball Tuesday night when he made a tremendous running grab of Wyatt Langford’s line drive to save an extra-base hit in the Rays’ 5-2 win over the Rangers.

That is just one of the things Rosario, signed to a one-year deal in the winter to help the Rays with left-handed pitching, has had to adjust to as he settles into his new home. When Josh Lowe went down this spring with hip and oblique injuries, Rosario was thrown into a platoon in the outfield with Richie Palacios. He also has played shortstop, his natural position, and is expected to play second base.

“I am fine wherever they want me to play,” Rosario said. “I just want a chance to be in the lineup.”

More health matters

Taylor Walls got a good report from his check-in with hip specialist Dr. J.W. Thomas Byrd, Cash said. “Dr. Byrd was very happy with him. They did some testing and watched him do some stretching and stuff like that,” Cash said. “So I think we’re still on schedule for that mid April to get him out to extended (spring training).”

Cash said there were no significant updates on Josh Lowe (oblique) or Jonny DeLuca (fractured right hand).

• • •

Sign up for the Sports Today newsletter to get daily updates on the Bucs, Rays, Lightning and college football across Florida.

Never miss out on the latest with your favorite Tampa Bay sports teams. Follow our coverage on Instagram, X and Facebook.