ST. PETERSBURG — The focus when the Rays and Rangers met earlier this season was on brothers Josh and Nathaniel Lowe as they played against each other for the first time in their major-league careers.
Monday, as their teams got ready to face off in the American League Wild Card Series, the brothers’ focus was on their mom, who is battling brain cancer and will not be watching from the stands.
“She’s going through chemo right now, and she won’t be able to make it,” Josh said before Monday’s workout at Tropicana Field. “But I asked her if it’s OK if I said something, and she said yes, because the more people that know, the more prayers that can be said for her.”
Wendy Lowe had been hard to miss back in June, when her sons — Rays outfielder Josh and Rangers first baseman Nathaniel — faced off for the first time in the big leagues. Wendy wore a custom-made jersey that was divided between the teams’ colors and had “Lowe” across the front.
Tuesday, however, she will remain at home so she can stay on track with her chemotherapy schedule.
“Chemo, radiation and doctor appointments get in the way of her coming to the game,” Nathaniel told the Dallas Morning News. “Objectively speaking, that’s what it is. It’s a lot. It’s the only way I know how to say it. It’s just a lot.”
It’s been a heavy three months for the family.
About a month after that first meeting between the Rays and Rangers, Josh Lowe said Monday, his mother suffered a seizure. That was when they found out she had cancer. At the time, Josh was placed on the family medical leave list as Wendy underwent surgery.
Josh and Nathaniel returned to play the second half of the season while their minds remained on their mother.
Rangers general manager Chris Young said Monday he was all too aware of how difficult that balance was for the brothers.
“On a personal level, I lost my dad this time of year eight years ago, and I know how hard it is to play a game and constantly be thinking about a sick family member,” the former MLB pitcher said. “So, certainly our thoughts and prayers are with the Lowe family and, you know, for for Josh and Nate.
“I can sympathize and empathize with how hard this is for them. It’s really hard. These are human beings, and to compartmentalize and go out and play a game we’ve worked our whole life to be on the stage, and meanwhile you’re suffering at home, it’s really, really challenging.”
It would have been hard to tell that Josh’s focus had been anywhere other than on the field. He had an impressive first full season in the big leagues, hitting .292 with 20 home runs and 32 stolen bases. He might have been even better in the second half, batting .311 with a .835 OPS.
“Anything that involves a loved one I feel, like, has got to be unbelievably difficult,” injured Rays infielder Brandon Lowe said. “But for it to be so close to home, having it happen to your parent. …. He took some time away when it first kind of started happening and then came back, and you wouldn’t know any better the way that he carried himself with it. He was in the clubhouse, and you didn’t know what was going on. So the way that he’s handled things, it’s pretty incredible.”
The brothers credited their teammates, managers, and staff with helping them through the grind of the baseball season while dealing with worry and concern about their mother.
It is the first thing they think of when they wake up in the morning and stays with them throughout the day.
Nevertheless, she remains their driving force, Nathaniel told the Morning News.
“I think and pray about her every day,” he said. “I don’t know what the next weeks and months and years look like. She’s given everything to me. And I think that requires a standard of performance out of me. And when I can’t do that, the very least I can do is be positive and grateful for where I am at.”
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