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How Rays will balance lineup with Brandon Lowe latest on injured list

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays officially placed Brandon Lowe on the 10-day injured list Friday. The second baseman strained his right oblique muscle on the road trip and has not played since Sunday.

While most oblique injuries usually require a slow rehab and return, the Rays say they are optimistic because Lowe has told them he feels better than expected.

“The only timeframe that I have is that he feels remarkably better than maybe what some other guys have felt when the oblique creeps in,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “So (head trainer Joe Benge) is pretty optimistic.”

With Josh Lowe (oblique) also out since spring training, it leaves the Rays shorthanded when it comes to left-handed hitters. They called up switch-hitter Niko Goodrum from Triple A to take Brandon Lowe’s spot and give them a potential left-handed bat off the bench.

Friday night against the Giants, they went with Richie Palacios, who gave them a left-handed hitter in the three spot behind Yandy Diaz and Randy Arozarena. Amed Rosario, who had largely been playing rightfield and backup shortstop, was at second base.

This will also mean more opportunities for Curtis Mead.

“Look, (president of baseball operations) Erik (Neander) did a good job going out and getting Amed. He’s a good player,” Cash said. “And for Curtis Mead it just kind of presents more opportunities for a young player .... we think highly of both of them.

“They have had solid starts to this season.”

On the mend

Speaking of Josh Lowe, he took his first big step back this week, playing in an extended spring training game Thursday, according to Neander.

Cash added that Lowe will be joined by infielder Taylor Walls next week in ramping up toward a rehab assignment.

“(Lowe) and Taylor Walls were looking to get some live BPs and some games out in Port Charlotte and then if everything goes well (after four or five reps of those, then we’ll look to get them to Durham shortly after that,” Cash said.

Josh Lowe missed most of spring training. First, he went down with a hip injury and then he suffered the strained oblique in his ramp up to return. He is coming off a breakout season in 2023 when he hit .292 with a .835 OPS and 20 home runs.

Walls, the shortstop/second baseman, had surgery to repair a tear in the labrum of his right hip.

In other injury news, right-hander Taj Bradley (pectoral strain) has been throwing off the mound in the bullpen.

“He threw two ‘innings’ in the bullpen the other day. Fifteen to 20 pitches each,” Cash said. “No hiccups. Everything felt good.”

Shane Baz, who has had his return from September 2022 Tommy John surgery slowed this spring by his own oblique issues, is back throwing live batting practice. Because he will have a strict innings limit in his first season coming off surgery, the Rays do not expect him back until later in the year.

The Rays also expect top prospect Junior Caminero, who has been out with a right quad injury, back on the field to resume some activities early next week in Triple A.

Miscellany

Pete Fairbanks, who walked one but pulled out the save, recorded his 43rd with the Rays. He’s tied with Brad Boxberger for sixth on the team’s all-time list. … Arozarena played in his 500th career MLB game Friday night. He went 0-for-3 with a walk.

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