Rays bring back Josh Lowe, option Curtis Mead before White Sox series

ST. PETERSBURG — Josh Lowe missed the first 35 games of the regular season, so there was not a lot of time to waste. The Rays outfielder singled on his first at-bat after returning from the injured list.

Lowe also doubled as the Rays beat the White Sox 8-2 on Monday night at Tropicana Field.

“It felt good to get back on the field and just excited to contribute,” Lowe said. “Everything felt pretty normal for me ... But yeah, I got tired. I was like, ‘Man, this game is going on forever,’ but I felt good.”

Lowe, who missed most of spring training with an oblique strain, then was slowed at the end of April by a hamstring issue, had 39 at-bats in the minors during his rehab. He was 9-for-39 with three homers over 10 games.

“A little bit more timing that I needed. But the body is totally fine, 100% I feel really good,” Lowe said. “I feel like I’m starting to trend in the right direction, baseball-wise, and feel really good in the box. So it’s just what I need right now.”

In 135 games last season, Lowe hit .292 with 20 home runs and 32 stolen bases. Defensively, Lowe was very solid. He made just two errors all season, racking up six defensive runs saved in rightfield.

The Rays optioned infielder Curtis Mead to Triple A to make room on the roster for Lowe. Mead, 23, was hitting .218 with a .545 slugging percentage in 26 games.

“Young player that we really think really highly of and want to see him go get everyday reps and opportunities and go do his thing in Triple A‚” Cash said of Mead. “He’ll probably play second base and third base back and forth, kind of like what he did here. And just get going. I mean, I thought he did some good things; he handled left-handed pitching pretty well for us while he was up here. Talented player who just needs reps.”

The Rays also optioned lefty Jacob Lopez to bring up right-hander Edwin Uceta to cover the bullpen after it had to use six relievers Sunday. Uceta pitched two scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth Monday night.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Uceta, they designated Niko Goodrum for assignment.

The pitcher in the room

Josh Lowe wasn’t the only player back from Durham. Taj Bradley also was in the clubhouse before Monday’s game. Even though the right-hander is physically here, Cash said they were waiting to see how Ryan Pepiot progressed from his lower left leg contusion before making a decision on when Bradley would be inserted into the rotation.

“Nothing’s been decided. I think we’ve got to get through Pepiot first,” Cash said. “Look, we’re thrilled with (Bradley’s) results. I think it’s fair ... he’s certainly in the mix to be inserted somewhere in the rotation. Pep today coming in, he’s good. We want to see him take another jump (Tuesday) to see what his next step is.”

Bradley declined comment.

Pepiot was hit on the side of his left shin/calf by a line drive that was 107 mph off the bat Sunday. He said the leg “would be fine,” as he went out to throw on flat ground Monday afternoon.

Friday, after an off-day on Thursday, seems most likely for a rotation reset. Tyler Alexander, who started Monday night, could be moved into a multi-inning role in the bullpen. Aaron Civale has struggled in his last three starts, unable to get out of the fifth inning.

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