How now will Rays fit Brandon Lowe on to their roster?

TORONTO — The Rays have been getting increasingly healthier and whole, with the group on the field looking — finally — more like team officials planned going into the season.

Barring any last-minute setbacks or change in plans, two more key players — second baseman Brandon Lowe and starter Ryan Pepiot — are likely to return to action during the next few days.

Which should make for some interesting decisions for the front office on how to fit them in.

Lowe has played only eight games, sidelined in early April by an oblique strain, and pausing his rehab after feeling some discomfort, but if he gets through a Sunday game with Triple-A Durham, he will be back as soon as Monday.

So who goes to make room?

The player who seems to be most extraneous given the current makeup of the roster and his performance (.268 average, .598 OPS through Friday) is right-handed DH Harold Ramirez. But there does not seem to be much of a market for him, and the Rays are unlikely to eat his $3.8 million salary.

Going into the season, lefty swinging Richie Palacios and righty Jonny DeLuca figured to be extra pieces, potentially on the Durham shuttle, and thus would be candidates to be sent down.

But Palacios has been one of the Rays’ best overall players, at the plate (.259, .756) and splitting time between rightfield and second base.

He was an infielder growing up, and his play at second has been good enough that it wouldn’t be a surprise to him to keep playing there some and Brandon Lowe getting more DH days, which might help keep him healthy.

DeLuca, in a smaller sample size, has also been a help both ways and off the bench, gives the Rays a chance to rotate outfielders and keep some pressure on struggling centerfielder Jose Siri.

All of which could make Jonathan Aranda, a lefty hitting infielder like Lowe, the guy to go to make room.

The Rays spent much of the spring talking about Aranda being a key part of their lineup, but he missed the first six weeks due to a broken finger.

He hasn’t looked good at the plate (3-for-13) since returning to action Tuesday and worse in the field.

The emergence of catcher Ben Rortvedt has added another lefty bat, giving manager Kevin Cash his desired ability to alternate righties and lefties throughout the order. And sending down Aranda would allow them to keep Palacios in the lineup more.

Creating space for Pepiot in the rotation appears simple: Tyler Alexander, even with 7 1/3 innings of a perfect game on Friday, seems the one to go. Pepiot would join Zach Eflin, Aaron Civale, Zack Littell and Taj Bradley in an all-right-handed rotation.

The likely move would be to reassign Alexander to long-man duties in the bullpen, and either drop Erasmo Ramirez or send down Manuel Rodriguez.

But the Rays are currently short on starter depth at Triple A, so there could be some thought to sending Alexander to Durham to stay stretched out if needed. Plus, they did trade Saturday for lefty reliever Richard Lovelady. Hmmm.

One move the Rays don’t seem likely to make anytime soon is to send down catcher Alex Jackson, even though he, through Friday, was 1-for-20 with 15 strikeouts and one walk since his May 3 callup to replace Rene Pinto.

As bad as Jackson has looked at the plate, they remain confident he will hit more like he was at Durham (.282 average, .956 OPS, seven homers in 22 games) and have raved about his work with the pitchers and behind the plate. And though Pinto has been hitting better at Durham, they don’t seem to be eager to give him another chance after his rough first month.

Rays rumblings

After having only five days off in the first 56 days of their schedule, the Rays are headed into a weird stretch, starting Thursday, with four days off in a 15-day window, which will help refresh the bullpen. … Current Red Sox/ex-Ray Cooper Criswell did indeed name his new son Cash, but said it had nothing to do with his former manager. Rather, it was a name he and wife Alex started talking about years ago if/when they had a son, deciding “that Cash Criswell flowed well and sounded great.” … Top prospect Junior Caminero has started playing second base in addition to third at Durham, a move that increases his versatility but also was needed to accommodate the demotion of Curtis Mead, who also needs time at third. … Caminero was second on Jim Bowden’s list for The Athletic of prospects worthy of promotion to the majors, behind Nationals outfielder James Wood. And Caminero was No. 3, Carson Williams 17, Xavier Isaac 47 and Brayden Taylor 87th in’s updated top 100. … Seemed odd for Boston to schedule a night game for Thursday’s series finale, not only forcing the Rays into an early-morning arrival in Toronto but the Sox’s to St. Louis as well. … Australian All-Star closer Liam Hendriks, currently rehabbing with Boston, had kind things to say about Mead, who he met last season while on a rehab assignment, and said he’d like to pitch against his fellow countryman: “I’ve never faced an Aussie, well, in America.” … The Rays’ over/under win total on dropped from 85½ on opening day to 81½. …’s “one quick fix” for the Rays: Get Randy (Arozarena) right. … Bucs first-round pick Graham Barton is slated to throw out the first pitch for Monday’s game versus Boston, and UCF football coach Gus Malzahn on Wednesday. … Keith Law’s mock draft for The Athletic has the Rays taking a near-local with the 18th pick: shortstop Kellon Lindsey from Hardee High in Wauchula. … The Marlins finished Tuesday’s game with three 2023 Rays on the field: catcher Christian Bethancourt, shortstop Vidal Brujan, third baseman Tristan Gray. … The Rays were 13th in The Athletic’s latest power rankings, with writer Chad Jennings noting their improved play and health but saying in mid May “it might be too late. … Some websites showed reliever Edwin Uceta as being out of options, but the Rays were able to send him back to Triple-A because he was awarded a fourth option based on when he was first added to a 40-man roster and the time he had in the majors.

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