Notes: Walls to IL as precaution; Castillo's hat

June 24th, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays shortstop said he’s been playing through soreness in his right wrist for about two weeks, but after making a slick diving play up the middle Tuesday night, he woke up Wednesday morning having reached a point where it was too much to play through.

Tampa Bay scratched Walls from the lineup on Wednesday night then placed him on the 10-day injured list Thursday afternoon, retroactive to Wednesday, due to right wrist tendinitis. The Rays recalled reliever Drew Rasmussen from Triple-A Durham to fill his spot on the active roster.

Walls said the soreness in his wrist spread to his forearm and hand, beyond what he’d been receiving treatment for the previous 10 days or so. He received a cortisone injection on Wednesday to address the issue and said Thursday he hopes to return on July 3, the first date he’s eligible to come off the IL.

“I think I could go play right now. Even yesterday, I mean, this definitely wouldn't stop me from playing. But I think they're being a little precautious now and just trying to make sure we get ahead of things and take care of it now,” Walls said. “So when I come back, I'm not altering, whether it be a swing or trying to work around it, to make sure I don't hurt it even more. We're going to go ahead and try to take care of it now, and hopefully I can be out and back helping the team soon.”

In a way, the IL placement is a way to protect Walls from himself. The hard-working rookie is diligent about his pregame preparation, and he said he occasionally battles through “small things” throughout the season due to his high volume of work. Now, he can take a few days to fully rest his wrist and return at full strength rather than working around it or developing bad habits in his swing to avoid aggravating the injury.

“Knowing Taylor and his personality, he's not going to come out of the lineup. He wanted to play,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “But we felt like at this point, let's make sure to rest it. He is too valuable to what we're trying to do.”

With Walls temporarily sidelined, it turns out the Rays’ overcrowded infield was an issue for all of two days. Top prospect Wander Franco started at shortstop Wednesday and Thursday, and he figures to see most of the action there while Walls is out. Joey Wendle, who started at third base on Thursday night, can back up Franco at shortstop as well.

“We've got shortstop covered,” Cash said.

About Castillo’s cap…
Upon entering the Rays’ 8-2 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday night in the ninth inning, closer Diego Castillo was inspected by the umpiring crew for sticky substances, part of MLB’s enhanced enforcement policy. Umpires found nothing suspicious, but Castillo had to hand over his cap and get a new one from Cash before he could begin pitching.

Crew chief Tom Hallion told a pool reporter on Wednesday night that he “noticed a discoloration on the brim of his hat,” inspected the cap and didn’t find any sticky substances. Hallion, noting that the original cap was removed but not confiscated, then asked Castillo to replace his hat.

Castillo said he wasn’t concerned, but he knew there was one spot worn out by him repeatedly touching it with rosin on his fingers. It clearly didn’t bother him or distract him, as the right-hander retired all three hitters he faced. Castillo said Thursday that was the cap he’s used all season, and while it was returned to him, he’ll have to use the new one moving forward.

“I wasn't really aware of anything, and then when they took it away, I knew there was nothing on it,” Castillo said Thursday through interpreter Manny Navarro. “But they decided to take it out of caution.”

Cash said he briefly spoke with the Commissioner’s Office on Thursday, and he credited Hallion and umpire Phil Cuzzi for displaying what he called “an abundance of common sense” in their handling of the situation.

“They're trying to avoid one team saying another thing, or our team saying something, and just said, ‘Look, we can nip this right here, get him a new hat,’” Cash said. “Applaud them for the way they handled it.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said he asked the umpires to clarify the situation, not because he thought Castillo should have been ejected but simply to gain understanding of how the process will work moving forward.

“It wasn't sticky. It was just discolored. They just wanted to make sure there was nothing weird going on, so they decided for him to switch the hat,” Cora said. “I was just confused. He gets checked. They check his belt, they check his glove, and they check his hat, and they throw the hat away, so I'm like, 'What's going on here?'

“It's something new. I'm not here like, 'You've got to throw him out.' I need a clarification, because this might happen again. It might happen to us, and we have to know what's going on."