Zunino 'felt good' in first rehab game

Honeywell cleared to throw after break in Tommy John recovery

May 29th, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- Mike Zunino said he “felt good” during his first rehab game with the Class A Advanced Charlotte StoneCrabs on Tuesday, and he hopes to return to the Rays lineup in the near future.

“It’s one of those things where you get into a rehab assignment and you want to test it in all different ways and I was able to do that,” Zunino said. “I was able to hit all the boxes luckily in the first game and bouncing back today I feel pretty good, so we’ll continue to hope it goes in that direction.”

Zunino, who is recovering from a left quad injury, went 3-for-3 with a double and two walks on Tuesday and played seven innings behind the plate. The Rays catcher initially thought he could return in time for the upcoming road trip in Detroit, but after playing in Tuesday’s game, Zunino believes he could be ready to rejoin the team as early as this weekend against Minnesota.

“Obviously the decision is out of my hands and I can only tell them how I feel,” Zunino said. “I don’t want anything to happen that sets it back any, but if it feels pretty good hopefully there’s a way that it can be a little sooner. But it’s not my decision at the end of the day.”

Rays manager Kevin Cash said the team will continue to be careful with Zunino and won’t make a decision until they feel that he’s at or near 100 percent. The plan remains that Zunino will return to Port Charlotte and catch seven innings on Thursday. Following that start, the team could choose to make a decision to activate Zunino or have him play back-to-back games for the StoneCrabs.

“He’s chomping at the bit. He wants to play. He wants to play for us tomorrow,” Cash said. “That most likely is not going to happen. We talk about responsibility, we’ve got a responsibility for all the players. We’re thrilled he’s doing well, but the plan will be for him to go catch tomorrow in Port Charlotte again.”

More injury updates
Yandy Diaz took swings in the batting cage for the second straight day on Wednesday and said his left hand feels better, though he still has some discomfort when swinging a bat. He’s eligible to be activated from the injured list on Thursday, though that is unlikely to happen.

“Yandy still feels it when he swings,” Cash said. “I think Yandy is going to try to get here tomorrow and take [batting practice] on the field, even though we’re not hitting on the field, but he’ll get here at some point.”

The team’s top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, was cleared to begin throwing after being shut down for most of the month with soreness in his forearm. He is throwing from 60-75 feet and will be reevaluated by the team on Monday.