Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi was forced to miss Thursday’s game due to left groin tightness and then Friday afternoon, the Rays announced he’d been placed on the 10-day injured list. The move is retroactive to June 3, and left-handed pitcher Ryan Sherriff has been activated as a corresponding move.
There’s no real timetable set for a return. The closest we’ve heard was “a while.” Choi missed the first six weeks of the season as he was recovering from right knee surgery. The Rays have acknowledged that it’s possible the knee injury led to this groin injury.
“He’s dealing with the knee to some extent and when you favor one thing, it leads to another,” manager Kevin Cash said, via tampbaytimes.com.
The loss of Choi here is a big one. The hulking lefty has hit .304/.448/.522 with four doubles, two homers and 11 RBI in his 15 games since coming off the injured list. The Rays went 12-3 in those 15 games, too, meaning they are 21-19 without him.
Now, let’s be clear. Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation here. By no means has Choi been their only hot bat. Since his return, Austin Meadows has been out of his mind crushing the ball while Mike Brosseau and Joey Wendle have been great and Mike Zunino has continued to slug.
The pitching staff is obviously going well, too.
As for replacing Choi, the way the Rays work isn’t to just throw one player into a specific spot. Choi has only been used at first base and designated hitter. Yandy Díaz and Brosseau are available at first and five players remaining on the active roster have served as the DH. They can absorb this blow, even if the club as a whole is much better with Choi’s presence in the middle of the lineup.
The Rays head to Friday’s game in Arlington against one of the worst teams in the league in the Texas Rangers while sporting the best record in the American League. They’ve won 17 of their last 20 games and have a two-game lead in the AL East.