Rays place Cruz on COVID-19 injured list; Archer, Choi exit

National Sports

Tampa Bay Rays’ Nelson Cruz celebrates with Ji-Man Choi (26) after the Rays defeated the Baltimore Orioles during a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays placed designated hitter Nelson Cruz on the COVID-19 injured list.

The move was announced Sunday about one hour before the Rays hosted the Chicago White Sox in a matchup of AL division leaders. It was not clear if Cruz tested positive for the coronavirus or was deemed a close contact of someone who did.

Tampa Bay also lost starting pitcher Chris Archer and first baseman Ji-Man Choi during the first two innings of the game. The AL East-leading Rays started the day with 16 players, including 15 pitchers, on the IL.

The 41-year-old Cruz, acquired from Minnesota last month, is hitting .198 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in 24 games with Tampa Bay. The slugger has a .270 batting average, with 26 homers and 68 RBIs, this season.

Cruz is 42nd on the career home run list with 443.

Archer was pulled because of left hip tightness in his first start since since April 10, when he left a game against the New York Yankees due to right lateral forearm tightness. He allowed one hit and one walk and struck out four before leaving after two scoreless innings.

Choi doubled in the first and scored on Austin Meadow’s single but left after the inning with left hamstring tightness.

The Rays recalled right-handed pitcher Chris Mazza from Triple-A Durham to take Cruz’s place on the roster.

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