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Remember Jeffrey Springs? He’s working his way back to Rays

TORONTO — There should be plenty happening of note for the Rays at Tropicana Field on Monday.

Slugging second baseman Brandon Lowe is likely to be activated from the injured list. Newly acquired reliever Richard Lovelady is expected to be added to the roster. And starter Taj Bradley will lead the charge into a rematch against the Red Sox, whom the Rays took three of four from last week in Boston.

But there also will be a significant development early Monday afternoon 90 miles south in Port Charlotte.

That’s where Jeffrey Springs will make a rehab start for the Florida Complex League team, his first official outing on the path back to the majors since April 2023 Tommy John elbow surgery, with an unofficial target of an early July return.

“A huge step,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Every step, every box you check, whether it’s a bullpen (session), live (batting practice), simulated (game), now pitching, it’s a good thing for us. …

“For Springs, it’s special. When you sit down that long and you rehab, rehab, rehab, and you get to go actually compete, it means something.”

Springs emerged as one of the Rays’ top starters by going 9-5, 2.46 in 2022, then was injured in his third outing of the 2023 season.

Springs said last week he had “hit each checkpoint so far” and felt he had completed the physical aspects of the recovery.

“I feel that that’s no longer like in the back of my mind,’’ he said. “It’s more so, for me, getting the body ready.

“My arm feels great, no issues with the elbow. It’s just more getting back to pitching, being able to spin breaking balls and changeups. I can throw ’em, and sometime they’re ‘eh.’ But just trying to work on that and fine-tune pitching. That’s where we’re at.”

Springs said he expects to make two starts with the FCL team then move up to Triple-A Durham around June 1, though that is subject to change. Rehabs for pitchers last 30 days, but those recovering from Tommy John can get three 10-day extensions.

“We’re in a good spot,” Springs said. “Getting closer.”

Rehab report

Brandon Lowe went 0-for-3 with a walk Sunday for Durham in the second game of a quick restart of his rehab from a strained right oblique and is expected to rejoin the Rays on Monday. … Reliever Chris Devenski (right knee tendinitis) struck out five but allowed three runs and four hits over two innings in his second outing. … Infielder Taylor Walls, out since October right hip surgery, will start his rehab assignment Tuesday with the FCL team.

Hey, you look familiar

Bradley was sharp, despite not having a crisp fastball, in working five innings to beat the Red Sox on Wednesday.

Now, for the first time in his young career, he has the challenge of facing the same team in consecutive starts and the question of whether to do things differently.

“There’s a fine line …,” he said. “It’s like taking a test, you hopefully do better the second time. I just feel like (you) play your game. Of course during the game, you see different approaches from last time. Or maybe they change their approach for this game (based on what) they saw last time. So you’ve got to work pretty spontaneously in the game to change stuff.”

Miscellany

With Lovelady, acquired Saturday from the Cubs and out of options, and Lowe expected to be added, the Rays will have to drop a reliever and position player from the active roster, then another pitcher Wednesday when Ryan Pepiot (left leg bruise) is set to be activated and start. … Isaac Paredes extended his career-high on-base streak to 18 games, the longest active such streak in the American League. Paredes also hit his team-leading ninth homer, and 62nd of his career, all to left or left-center.

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