Rays rookie Nate Lowe loses out in post-trades roster shuffle

Rays Journal: The Rays sent the rookie first baseman back to Durham, with Ji-Man Choi splitting time with Jesus Aguilar.
Nate Lowe was batting .294 with five home runs and 13 RBI in 102 at bats with the Rays. ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times
Nate Lowe was batting .294 with five home runs and 13 RBI in 102 at bats with the Rays. ALLIE GOULDING | Times
Published August 1

BOSTON — The Rays were understandably excited to have trade acquisitions Jesus Aguilar and Nick Anderson join them for Thursday’s game.

But their arrivals caused some adjustments to the roster, most notably rookie first baseman Nate Lowe being sent back to Triple-A Durham.

MORE RAYS: GM Erik Neander weighs in on the Rays deals

On the surface, it looked like the Rays decided to keep Ji-Man Choi over Lowe, as both are lefty hitting first baseman/designated hitters who would pair with the righty swinging Aguilar.

Choi, going into play Thursday, was hitting .264 with 10 homers, 37 RBI and a .773 OPS in 83 games. Lowe was hitting .294 with five homers, 13 RBIs and an .875 OPS in 30 games, though has been somewhat inconsistent and didn’t impress with his defense.

But Choi, who is out of options and would have to be exposed to waivers, wasn’t going anywhere. Keeping all three would have reduced roster versatility with three players suited for essentially the same positions, and been clumsy since the Rays rotate others into the DH spot.

So the decision seemed more about keeping Lowe versus reserve outfielder Guillermo Heredia or an extra pitcher.

“Very tough call,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “Tough decision. Lots of thoughts went into it. Nate’s a big part of what we’re doing right now and going forward. Saying that, having the personnel that we have right now could create somewhat of a logjam. We want to keep our flexibility with some defense and being as versatile as possible. Nate did a lot of good things for us and I anticipate we’ll see him here again soon.’’

Trading places

Aguilar and Anderson were surprised to traded.

Aguilar was still sleeping at the Brewers team hotel in San Francisco when his wife got a call and woke him up with the news. “I was like what are you talking about, nobody told me about that,’’ he said. “But it’s a business and you’ve got to keep going.’’

Anderson was sitting in the Marlins clubhouse after some on-field work when a teammate told him he saw something on Twitter that he was dealt to the Rays along with teammate Trevor Richards. Ten or so minutes later, Anderson got the official word.

“I just kind of sat there waiting to see if was true or not and then the bullpen coach came and got me (for a meeting),’’ he said. “So I had a little bit of a heads-up.’’

Both said they were excited to be part of the Rays and for the chance to contribute to a playoff contending team.

Number of the day

70

Number worn by newly acquired reliever Nick Anderson, same as he had in Miami. He is the first to wear it for the Rays in regular season since manager Joe Maddon 2006-14.

Friday fun day

The Rays have Friday off this week, which is about as odd as it seems.

It’s part of a recent MLB scheduling change, allowing teams hosting two-game series, which are usually against division rivals or interleague opponents, to try to boost attendance by playing on Saturday and Sunday rather than the usual mid-week slots. There are five other such series on the schedule, including St. Louis at Oakland this weekend.

Still, it’s weird.

“That’s odd,’’ Cash said. “I don’t think I’ve ever have had a Friday off.’’

Actually, the Rays did last year, but under unusual circumstance: They were playing the Red Sox in their home opener on a Thursday, and Friday was kept open in case there was a weather postponement. (It snowed on Friday, as it turned out, Cash noting, “we weren’t playing anyways.’’

The only other time in 22 seasons the Rays were off on a Friday came in even odder situation. In 2004 they opened the season playing two regular seasons games in Japan against the Yankees, then came out and Thursday and Friday off before resuming play with an exhibition game on Saturday and then got back to regular season play.

Miscellany

* Richards was sent to Triple-A Durham to get stretched back out to starter/bulk inning duty. He had been used for one-inning outings his last three appearances with Miami. Catcher Rocky Gale, acquired from the Dodgers, also will join the Bulls.

* The sweep of the Red Sox was the Rays fifth of the season, second in Boston having taken a two-game set in April.

* The Rays logged their fifth straight game of rapping 12 or more hits (a franchise record), scoring six or more and hitting multiple homers.

* Austin Meadows took over the team lead with his 17th homer; Brandon Lowe, who has been out a month, had 16.

* Catcher Travis d’Arnaud has a strong case for AL player of the month honors, hitting .342 with eight homers, 25 RBIs and a 1.136 OPS in July.

* The four trades made Wednesday involving 40-man roster players were the most for a single day in team history.

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

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