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Rays’ Josh Lowe optimistic about quick return from IL after 1st workout

ST. PETERSBURG — Josh Lowe took a good first step, and several swings, Tuesday toward a quick return to the Rays lineup as soon as next week.

Lowe, placed back on the injured list Saturday after experiencing tightness in the area of his previously strained right oblique, said he felt good after a workout that included running, swings in the batting cage and some defensive drills.

“I think for the first day of doing everything, I’m very encouraged, they’re very encouraged with where I’m at,” Lowe said.

Manager Kevin Cash had a similar view.

“He had a good day (Tuesday),” Cash said. “He had a full day on the field before everybody else got here, and then a full day in the cage. So, we’re going to take it day to day, but very encouraged by that.”

Lowe is eligible to come off the IL Sunday in Baltimore, though Tuesday in Miami might be more realistic. He was sidelined from spring training until May 6, then played just 14 games, hitting .240 with a .736 OPS, before being sidelined again.

The Rays plan to increase the repetitions and intensity of his workouts on a daily basis, with key tests being hitting against high-velocity pitches and throwing to bases at game speed.

“I think both of those are probably good tests,” Lowe said. “But where I’m at right now, I have no problem thinking that in a couple days or wherever that the calendar day comes to do that, and I’ll feel good.”

In other injury news:

• Infielder Taylor Walls (hip surgery recovery) played his fifth and final rehab game for the Port Charlotte-based Florida Complex League team (hitting .118, 2-for-17) with plans to join Triple-A Durham Wednesday in Jacksonville.

How long he stays with the Bulls will be determined by how is moving in the field, as the Rays highly value his elite-level defense.

• Starter Zach Eflin, sidelined since May 19 due to lower back inflammation, is feeling better and is tentatively slated to throw a bullpen session on Thursday.

• Starter Jeffrey Springs, rehabbing from April 2023 Tommy John elbow surgery, got treatment again Tuesday on his lat area after leaving his Saturday rehab start after only one batter due to discomfort.

“We’ll treat it and see when he’s ready to get a ball in his hand,” Cash said. “I don’t think it’s too big of a deal. If it was, we would have probably already got imaging and all that.”

First is second

Cash’s search for ways to make the lineup more productive led him to drop Yandy Diaz from the leadoff spot to second for Tuesday’s game against Oakland.

Diaz had battled leadoff in 183 of 184 games since the start of last season; Cash previously dropped him down a spot for the April 22 game as part of an all-right-handed lineup vs. Tigers ace lefty Tarik Skubal.

Tuesday, the change was to put lefty Richie Palacios at the top against Oakland right-hander Mitch Spence and then alternate his four lefty swingers amid the right-handed hitters.

“Just how I drew it up,” Cash said. “I don’t have a good answer. Just mix it up, stagger it left, right, left, right and see if we can get the bats going.”

Miscellany

Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, who cleared waivers after being designated for assignment May 22, accepted his outright assignment to Triple A and rejoined the Bulls Tuesday. …. The state champion Jesuit High baseball team was on the field before Tuesday’s game. … The Rays’ July 12 home game against Cleveland has been selected for national streaming coverage by AppleTV+. ... Mitchell High product Trevor Harrison, a 2023 fifth-round pick, was named Florida Complex League pitcher of the week for throwing five scoreless innings.

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