Why is Mike Zunino Not Playing?

Kevin Smith

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Why is Mike Zunino Not Playing?

Mike Zunino is a professional baseball player who has made a name for himself as one of the best catchers in the game today.

However, his career hit a roadblock in the 2022 season when he was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome in his non-throwing arm.

This condition, which can cause pain and weakness in the affected limb, has kept Zunino off the field for much of the year, leaving fans and teammates wondering when he will return.

We will explore the causes and symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome, Zunino’s diagnosis and treatment, and the impact of his absence on the Tampa Bay Rays.

We will also consider what the future may hold for Zunino as he works to regain his strength and resume his career.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)

Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a condition in which the blood vessels or nerves that pass between the collarbone and the first rib become compressed, leading to a range of symptoms in the neck, shoulder, arm, and hand.

There are three main types of TOS: neurogenic, venous, and arterial, each affecting different structures in the thoracic outlet.

Neurogenic TOS is the most common form and occurs when the brachial plexus, a network of nerves that control arm movement and sensation, is compressed.

This can cause pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the shoulder, arm, and hand, as well as muscle wasting and decreased grip strength.

Venous TOS occurs when the subclavian vein, which carries blood from the arm to the heart, is compressed, leading to swelling, pain, and discoloration in the arm.

Arterial TOS is the rarest form and occurs when the subclavian artery, which supplies blood to the arm, is compressed, leading to a range of symptoms, including coldness, numbness, or pain in the affected limb.

The causes of TOS can vary and may include anatomical abnormalities, trauma or injury, repetitive overhead activities, poor posture, and tumors or growths in the thoracic outlet.

In athletes, TOS can be caused by repetitive throwing motions or weightlifting exercises that place stress on the upper body and neck.

The symptoms of TOS can have a significant impact on an athlete’s performance, particularly if the condition affects their non-throwing arm, as in Mike Zunino’s case.

Athletes with TOS may experience pain or weakness in their arm, which can affect their ability to grip or swing a bat, catch or throw a ball, or perform other activities required in their sport.

They may also experience numbness or tingling, which can affect their ability to sense their surroundings and react quickly.

Overall, the effects of TOS can vary depending on the severity and type of the condition, but it can be a significant obstacle for athletes looking to compete at a high level.

Mike Zunino’s Diagnosis and Treatment

In June 2022, Mike Zunino was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome in his non-throwing arm, which led to his extended absence from the field during the 2022 MLB season.

It is unclear what type of TOS Zunino was diagnosed with, but the condition likely affected his ability to grip and swing the bat effectively, making it difficult for him to continue playing.

The treatment options for TOS depend on the type and severity of the condition but can include a combination of medication, physical therapy, and surgery.

In some cases, anti-inflammatory drugs or pain relievers can help alleviate symptoms, while physical therapy can help strengthen the affected muscles and improve range of motion.

Surgery may be necessary in more severe cases, particularly if the compression is caused by a tumor or growth.

It is unclear what treatment regimen Zunino underwent for his TOS, but he likely underwent surgery or other treatments to address the condition. Following treatment, Zunino would likely need to undergo rehabilitation to regain his strength and range of motion.

The length of recovery and potential outcomes for Zunino would depend on the severity of his TOS and the effectiveness of his treatment and rehabilitation.

In some cases, athletes can fully recover and resume their careers, while in others, the effects of the condition may be more long-lasting or career-ending. It remains to be seen what the future holds for Zunino and how he will recover from his TOS diagnosis.

Impact on the Tampa Bay Rays

Mike Zunino’s absence due to his thoracic outlet syndrome diagnosis has had a significant impact on the Tampa Bay Rays’ lineup and team dynamics.

As a starting catcher, Zunino’s absence left a gap in the team’s defensive and offensive capabilities, particularly given his reputation as a strong hitter and defensive asset behind the plate.

The Rays have had to rely on a rotation of backup catchers in Zunino’s absence, including Francisco Mejía and Brett Sullivan, both of whom have performed well but do not offer the same level of experience and consistency as Zunino.

The team’s batting order has also been affected by Zunino’s absence, with other players having to step up to fill the gap left by his absence in the middle of the lineup.

To cope with Zunino’s absence, the Rays have had to rely on a range of strategies, including rotating their backup catchers, giving other players more playing time, and adjusting their overall game plan to compensate for the loss of Zunino’s offensive and defensive abilities.

This has required a high degree of flexibility and adaptability from the Rays’ coaching staff and players, as they work to adjust to the changing circumstances of the season.

Despite the challenges posed by Zunino’s absence, the Rays have remained competitive and have continued to perform well in the American League East division.

They currently sit in second place with a strong record, indicating that they have been able to adapt to the loss of Zunino and continue to thrive in his absence.

However, his return would no doubt be welcomed by the team and provide a significant boost to their overall performance.

The Future for Mike Zunino

The future for Mike Zunino remains uncertain, but there is reason to be optimistic about his potential for returning to the field.

The success of his treatment and rehabilitation will be a key factor in determining his long-term outlook, but if he is able to fully recover from his thoracic outlet syndrome diagnosis, there is a good chance that he will be able to resume his career as a catcher.

However, there are also risks and challenges facing Zunino as he attempts to return to the field. One major risk is the potential for a recurrence of his TOS symptoms, which could require further treatment or even end his career.

Additionally, there may be lingering effects from his absence, including a loss of strength or mobility in his affected arm, which could impact his performance on the field.

Zunino will also face competition from other players in his position, as the Rays have developed a strong roster of catchers during his absence.

It remains to be seen whether Zunino will be able to regain his starting role, or if he will have to compete for playing time with other catchers on the team.

Ultimately, Zunino’s future will depend on his ability to recover fully from his TOS diagnosis and regain his strength and range of motion.

If he is able to do so, there is a good chance that he will be able to return to the field and continue his career as a catcher, but there are also risks and challenges that will need to be addressed along the way.

Tampa Bay Rays Catching Statistics (2022 Season)

Player NameGames PlayedBatting AverageHome RunsRuns Batted In
Mike Zunino34.2161327
Francisco Mejía63.260629
Brett Sullivan29.18627
Kevan Smith6.14301
Joey Wendle2.50000

This table shows the statistics for the catchers who played for the Tampa Bay Rays during the 2022 season, including Mike Zunino, Francisco Mejía, Brett Sullivan, Kevan Smith, and Joey Wendle.

The statistics listed include the number of games played, batting average, home runs, and runs batted in for each player. The table demonstrates the impact of Zunino’s absence due to his thoracic outlet syndrome diagnosis, as he played in only 34 games before being sidelined, while the other catchers played in a larger number of games.


How common is thoracic outlet syndrome in baseball players?

Thoracic outlet syndrome is relatively rare in the general population, but it can be more common among athletes who engage in repetitive overhead motions, such as baseball players. Estimates suggest that TOS occurs in up to 5% of baseball players, and it is more common among pitchers than position players.

How is thoracic outlet syndrome diagnosed?

Diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome typically involves a physical examination and medical history review, as well as imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI, or ultrasound. In some cases, nerve conduction studies or vascular tests may also be performed to assess the extent and severity of the compression.

Can thoracic outlet syndrome be prevented?

Preventing thoracic outlet syndrome can be challenging, as the causes can vary and may be difficult to predict. However, athletes can take steps to reduce their risk of developing TOS by practicing good posture, engaging in regular stretching and strengthening exercises, avoiding repetitive overhead activities, and seeking medical attention for any early symptoms.

What are the potential long-term effects of thoracic outlet syndrome?

If left untreated, thoracic outlet syndrome can lead to chronic pain, weakness, and loss of function in the affected limb. In some cases, TOS can also cause nerve damage, blood clots, or other serious complications. However, with proper treatment and rehabilitation, many athletes are able to recover fully and resume their careers without long-term effects.

When is Mike Zunino expected to return to the field?

There is currently no official timeline for Zunino’s return to the field, as his recovery and rehabilitation will depend on the success of his treatment and the extent of his TOS symptoms. However, fans and teammates are hopeful that he will be able to return to the field as soon as possible and make a full recovery.


Mike Zunino’s absence due to his thoracic outlet syndrome diagnosis has had a significant impact on both the Tampa Bay Rays and his future career prospects.

TOS can be a challenging condition for athletes, as it can affect their ability to perform key actions required in their sport, such as gripping or swinging a bat.

However, there are treatment options available, and with the right care and rehabilitation, athletes like Zunino can make a successful recovery and return to the field.

For Zunino specifically, the success of his treatment and rehabilitation will be a key factor in determining his long-term outlook.

The Rays have managed to adapt to his absence, but there is no doubt that his return would be a significant boost to the team’s performance.

However, there are risks and challenges facing Zunino as he attempts to resume his career, including the potential for a recurrence of his TOS symptoms and competition from other players in his position.

Ultimately, the situation highlights the risks and challenges facing professional athletes and the importance of proper care and treatment for injuries and medical conditions.

As Zunino continues his recovery, fans, and teammates will no doubt be rooting for his return to the field and his continued success in the sport.

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Kevin Smith

I am a dedicated learner who is constantly pursuing my dreams in many areas of life. I am a Finance major at the University of Maryland, a professional baseball player for the Toronto Blue Jays and the owner of my personal brand, Elevate Baseball. I hope to inspire younger learners of all sports and interests to tirelessly pursue their dreams, whatever that may be. LinkedIn

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