Rays’ Drew Rasmussen sidelined with hamstring strain

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NEW YORK — What started as some hamstring tightness at the end of Drew Rasmussen’s Friday outing in Minnesota became enough of a concern that the Rays placed the right-hander on the 15-day injured list Wednesday.

Rasmussen will miss at least two starts, including Thursday against the Yankees, with the potential to return June 28 (the move was backdated to Sunday).

Ralph Garza Jr., who had been optioned to Triple-A Durham on Friday, was called up to take Rasmussen’s place on the active roster and is likely to work bulk innings behind opener Jalen Beeks on Thursday as the Rays opt for a bullpen-day assortment of relievers.

“It was something that we were hoping that we could get ready to go and throw (Thursday) in time, but the organization is looking out for my long-term health,” said Rasmussen, 5-3, 3.41 in 12 starts.

“It’s a long season. So it’s not 100 percent today and we don’t want to turn something that can take a week, a week and a half into something that takes a month, a month and a half. So they’re just getting out in front of it, protecting me from myself more than anything else.”

Rasmussen said he was confident he would have just the minimum stay on the injured list.

Manger Kevin Cash said they are hoping so.

“It’s disappointing because ‘Rass’ has been such a big part of our rotation,” he said. “We’ll see how he continues to respond to treatment.

“He threw a bullpen (session Tuesday) and if (pitching coach) Kyle (Snyder) didn’t know any better, I think he would have said that he looked pretty good. I saw him (Wednesday morning), talked to him and (he) said that he still feels it. That’s not a position we want to put him in.”

Rasmussen is the fourth Rays starting pitcher to be injured since the beginning of spring training, in addition to three still sidelined from previous injuries. Overall, he is the 22nd Rays player to serve time on the injured list this season and the 14th currently sidelined, matching the Reds for most in the majors.

Kiermaier leaves game; Zunino being checked further

Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier left Wednesday’s game against the Yankees in the third inning due to tightness in his left calf/Achillies area that he said has been bothering him for a week and got worse. “Just felt like I was flirting with disaster being out there,’' he said, “and I know this is an area not to fool around with.’' Kiermaier said he was “not overly concerned” and was “optimistic” he would not miss an extended amount of time but wouldn’t know his short-term availability until seeing how he felt waking up Thursday. “I definitely need to show signs of improvement,’' he said.

Mike Zunino is being sent for another MRI exam and evaluation after it was determined Tuesday by Dr. Koco Eaton that the tingling and weakness in the catcher’s left arm were stemming more from his neck than his shoulder. “They’ve kind of checked into his neck, seeing something cervical,” Cash said. A disc issue could be a possibility.

Upon further review

Cash didn’t have much to say the day after the replay reversal of a key call in the sixth inning, when Yandy Diaz was ruled out at second after the initial call was that second baseman Gleyber Torres came off the base catching Gerrit Cole’s throw.

“They had zoom-on angles that maybe we’re not privy to,” he said. “There were probably 35,000 fans here that were pretty shocked (Tuesday), along with our dugout, so that’s it.”

The replay official, at MLB’s New York headquarters, was said to have “definitely determined” Torres’ foot was on the base when the ball hit his glove.

Miscellany

Ji-Man Choi extended his career-best hitting streak to 13 games with a pinch-hit single in the eighth. ... Isaac Paredes started at first base, his first big-league appearance there, and the third counting the minors, as Cash opted to keep Diaz at third base and Harold Ramirez at DH. ... The Nestor Cortes-Shane McClanahan matchup was the first in Rays history with both starters having sub-2.00 ERAs through at least 10 starts.

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