Rays opening-day starter Zach Eflin placed on IL with lower back inflammation

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Zach Eflin (24) works against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Saturday, May 18, 2024. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays placed opening-day starter Zach Eflin on the 15-day injured list with lower back inflammation before Monday night’s game against Boston.

Eflin has struggled this year after a strong first season with Tampa Bay in 2023, going 3-4 with a 4.12 ERA in 10 starts. The right-hander was 16-8 last year after signing a $40 million, three-year contract, which was the largest free-agent deal in Rays’ history.

Oft-injured Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe was reinstated from the 15-day injured list after being sidelined by a right oblique strain.

Lowe last played with the Rays on April 7, and was hitting .185 with one homer and four RBIs in eight games before going on the IL.

This is the third consecutive year that Lowe has been impacted by injuries after hitting 39 homers and driving in 99 runs in 2021.

Left-hander Richard Lovelady, acquired last week from the Chicago Cubs, was added to the active roster. Reliever Manuel Rodriguez was optioned to Triple-A Durham.

Jeffrey Springs allowed one run, three hits, and struck out two over one inning for the rookie-level FCL Rays against the FCL Pirates in his first start since Tommy John surgery. It was the left-hander’s first game since April 13, 2023.

Springs was 2-0 with an 0.56 ERA in three starts last season before his season-ending injury.