Rays will wait and see how Josh Lowe feels on Friday

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays were planning to wait to see how Josh Lowe felt on Friday morning before deciding whether he would be placed on the injured list.

Lowe left Wednesday’s game after feeling tightness on his right side, in the same area as the right oblique strain sustained in spring training that forced him to miss the first 5 ½ weeks of the season.

A Thursday MRI exam did not yield conclusive results, and with Lowe saying he felt better Thursday morning, team officials decided to re-evaluate the lefty-swinging outfielder on Friday.

Even with Lowe reporting improvement, placement on the 10-day injured list still seems likely, as the Rays won’t want to risk him re-straining the oblique and missing extensive time.

In 14 games, Lowe has hit .240 with two homers, three RBIs and a .736 OPS. The Rays have high expectations for the 26-year-old after his 2023 breakthrough season in which he hit .292 with 20 homers, 83 RBIs, 32 steals and an .835 OPS.

If they do shelve Lowe, infielders Curtis Mead or Austin Shenton could be candidates for a brief callup from Triple-A Durham. Or the Rays may just opt to activate reliever Chris Devenski, who threw three innings (43 pitches) on Wednesday in what is expected to be his final rehab appearance; he’s been out since late April due to right knee tendinitis.

Armstrong, for openers

Right-handed reliever Shawn Armstrong will work as the opener for Friday’s game against the Royals, with lefty Tyler Alexander expected to handle the bulk of the innings.

In 12 previous opening assignments, Armstrong has a 1.52 ERA, compared to 4.19 in 248 relief outings.

Alexander has a 5.40 ERA in three games in relief, a 5.06 ERA in six games as a starter, including May 17 in Toronto, when he was perfect through the first 7 1/3 innings, then allowed three hits.

The veteran lefty said his goal coming off a strong game is similar to a rough showing.

“I try not to forget about it, but move on to the next one,” he said. “You do that with bad outings, right? You try not to think about it for too long, and I would say the same thing goes with good ones. I’m facing a whole different lineup in a different city, environment will be different, so just try to be me.”

Momentum missing

The Rays’ inconsistent play has prevented them from getting on any kind of extended roll. They have won more than three straight only twice and spent 13 days at .500, 18 above and 20 below.

“It’s been very challenging to establish momentum,” manager Kevin Cash said after Wednesday’s season-high fourth straight loss dropped them to 25-26.

“We’re not creating momentum. So at the end of the day, it’s on us to make the pitch, make the play and get that big hit. And it feels like we’re not doing that at the rate that we need to do to have momentum created.”

Thursday’s day off provided a welcome respite after playing 13 straight against American League East teams (6-7) and 51 games in 56 days, with Thursday starting a stretch of four days off in 15.

Cash said they need something to change.

“I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason (to their struggles),” he said. “Stay patient, try to stay consistent with them and know that we’ve got a good group of players in here. They’re talented. This is very similar group that did some special things last year, but there’s no doubt we need to get going.”


Right-hander Shane Baz, who went 0-2, 6.00 in four Triple-A rehab starts after a spring left oblique strain, will stay with the Bulls for now, as the Rays on Thursday reinstated him from the injured list and optioned him to Durham. … Bally Sports Sun broadcasters Brian Anderson and Dewayne Staats will call Friday’s game from the Randy Land seating area beyond the leftfield wall.

• • •

Sign up for the Sports Today newsletter to get daily updates on the Bucs, Rays, Lightning and college football across Florida.

Never miss out on the latest with your favorite Tampa Bay sports teams. Follow our coverage on Instagram, X and Facebook.