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Rays’ Josh Lowe to miss about two weeks due to injury

PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays outfielder Josh Lowe felt some discomfort in his left hip doing offseason sprint work, but it seemed to come and go.

When he reported to spring training last week and started working out regularly, it became more of an issue and one that will sideline him for about two weeks of exhibition games but is not expected to impact his availability for the March 28 season opener.

Manager Kevin Cash said Lowe will be shut down from baseball activities for about six days, then built back up and re-evaluated, with the potential to return to exhibition games in 10-15 days.

“I feel OK,” Lowe said Thursday. “It’s just something that I would rather get taken care of right now than let it linger and then have to miss time during the season. I could play right now; I think everybody knows that. It’s Feb. 29, and I’d rather be smart and then take a few weeks to take care of whatever is going on to be prepared for the entire season.”

Lowe had an MRI on Wednesday and said it showed no issues with muscles or bones, and that rest and anti-inflammatory medicine should take care of it. Cash provided a similar report: “Everything was very encouraging, it just kind of flared up in that area where he’s complaining about. Not overly concerned right now.”

Both Cash and Lowe said they were confident the injury would not impact the lefty swinger’s availability to start the regular season on time.

Lowe, 26, was a huge part of the 2023 Rays lineup, hitting .292 with 20 homers, 32 steals, 33 doubles and an .835 OPS, a combination of numbers surpassed only by Atlanta outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., the National League MVP.

Uwasawa has rough debut

Japanese right-hander Naoyuki Uwasawa had a rough first spring outing, allowing seven runs on eight hits, a walk and a hit batter over two innings. And he had issues adjusting to the between innings timer (which limited his warmup tosses), pitch clock and PitchCom device.

“Obviously all the things are challenging, but this is my first outing,” he said via team interpreter Taishi Terashima, “So I’ve got to just get used to it, and I’m sure the next one is going to be better than this one. ... Stuff-wise, I think it was OK, but execution’s got to be at another level for my next start (likely Tuesday).”

Cash said they are “very mindful and respectful” of the adjustments Uwasawa has to make, told him not to worry about Thursday’s outing and are fully confident the 30-year-old veteran of nine seasons with Nippon will handle it well.

“It’s a lot for a guy to come over and do what he’s doing, and one (rough) inning certainly doesn’t matter too much,” Cash said. “I’m glad he got his work in. He’s going to be that much better for it moving forward. ... He’s such a good guy, the way he’s carried himself, handled himself, even after (Thursday’s outing). He’s a pro. He’s done it for a long time. He’s going to handle it totally fine.”

Mejia rejoins catching corps

Catcher Francisco Mejia, who spent most of the last three seasons with the Rays, was re-signed to a minor-league contract with a camp invite. The addition of Mejia, released last week from a minor-league deal with the Angels, doesn’t seem to change the Rays’ plans to have Alex Jackson back up Rene Pinto, but could provide depth in case of an injury.

“Good guy to have around,” Cash said. “He was great in the clubhouse, certainly helped with our pitchers. We know Frankie well. He knows us well. So it should be a pretty good fit.”

Game details: Braves 12, Rays 9

The Rays (2-3-1) were behind 10-0 and 12-2 before rallying. ... Prospect Junior Caminero smoked a single to right. .... Infielder Austin Shenton had two hits and four RBIs. ... Braves outfielder Forrest Wall had two three-run homers.

Miscellany

Non-roster infielder Yu Chang had an MRI Thursday to determine the severity of the left oblique strain he sustained Wednesday that could potentially sideline him the rest of the spring. “He’s going to miss some time,” Cash said. “Pretty unfortunate. A guy that we really like, coming in competing for a job. He can really defend, and he’s got some pop, as we saw the other day.” ... Infielder Osleivis Basabe, who left Tuesday’s game after hitting his head sliding into third, was cleared by the team medical staff and resumed baseball activities. ... Brendan McKay, recovering from a series of arm injuries, on Saturday will pitch in his first game since Aug. 18, 2022, when he tore an elbow ligament.

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