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Zach Eflin appears set to rejoin Rays rotation Wednesday

BALTIMORE — Zach Eflin is tired of watching.

And after throwing 40-some pitches in a bullpen session Sunday, he declared himself ready to return to the Rays rotation, having been sidelined for two weeks with low back inflammation.

“It went great,” Eflin said. “Felt good. … And I’m ready to go. … I checked the boxes that I need to get back. So kind of out of my hands at this point.”

Wednesday looks to be the day targeted for Eflin’s return, but the Rays will want to check with him over the next couple days, as well as discuss his expected workload and how it could impact the staff.

With days off on either side of the two-game series in Miami that starts Tuesday, the Rays should be able to cover a short outing, or they could have a bullpen day and push Eflin back to Friday, where he’d face the more potent Orioles.

Eflin (3-4 with a 4.12 ERA in 10 starts) said he shouldn’t need special handling, and that communication will be key.

“Just being honest how I feel every inning,” he said. “In the past, I haven’t really been limited when I got back (from injured list stints). So I don’t necessarily want to put an inning cap on it. I want to go out there and feel like a normal start and go as long as I can.”

That definitely will be better for him than having to watch from the dugout.

“It sucks, honestly,” Eflin said. “Obviously, I love watching the boys and being part of it. But when you’re on the IL you feel worthless and useless. And there’s a bunch of other adjectives I could use.

“I want to be back obviously as quickly as possible and be a part of this. The IL sucks. It’s never fun. So just can’t wait to get back.”

When Eflin is activated, the Rays will have their projected starting rotation healthy at the same time for the first time this season, as he joins Taj Bradley, Aaron Civale, Zack Littell and Ryan Pepiot.

Medical matters: J-Lowe, Poche, Walls

Outfielder Josh Lowe seems set to rejoin the Rays for Tuesday’s game in Miami after going 1-for-4 Sunday and playing nine innings in rightfield for Triple-A Durham to complete a three-game rehab assignment following a slight recurrence of a right oblique strain.

Lefty reliever Colin Poche, sidelined since late April with mid-back tightness, zipped through a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 inning for the Bulls in the first of two or three planned outings.

Infielder Taylor Walls (right hip surgery) went 1-for-1 with two walks in his third game for the Bulls, with Rays manager Kevin Cash saying the key to his return would be “his defense and explosiveness on defense.”

Jackson snaps hitless streak

Alex Jackson had to sweat it out for a few minutes, but he snapped a 0-for-30 hitless streak that was the majors’ longest such active skid with a fifth-inning single in the 4-3 win against the Orioles. Jackson laced a ball 102.2 mph that skipped past third baseman Ramon Urias but initially was ruled an error.

After a review, the official scorer changed it to a single. Jackson, who had one hit in 35 at-bats since his early May callup, doubled his average, which now sits at .054 (2-for-37).

Rough start for Caballero

Shortstop Jose Caballero still wasn’t sure exactly what happened as he dove for a ground ball in the second inning, felt pain on his left side and had the wind knocked out of him. But after a few minutes on the ground, he felt good enough to stay in, and he had key hits in two Rays rallies.

“It was kind of weird, to be honest,” he said. “I felt something in my ribs ... like I stretched too much or something. After that I couldn’t breathe so I was just kind of worried about it. But just happy it wasn’t nothing bad.”

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

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