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For starters: Rays vs. Royals, with Mike Zunino back and Brandon Lowe at first

Having lost four straight and with Austin Meadows sidelined, Rays look to get back on track.
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino (10) runs to first on a double during the bottom of the eighth inning during Wednesdays (4/17/19) game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
Published Apr. 22
Updated Apr. 22

UPDATE. 5:10: Cash said Choi (calf) feeling much better today, is “totally available” today if needed tho they’d like to give him another day if possible. ... Zunino said all is well with new son Rhett, and that he was named after country singer Thomas Rhett. ... Lowe said he is confident spring training work at 1B will carry over, and that positioning on relays is his biggest concern: “It’ll be interesting. It’ll be fun.” ... Former Ray closer Brad Boxberger, now with the Royals, stopped by to say hello to some Rays folks.

DEVELOPING: After being swept by the Red Sox and on a four-game losing streak overall, the Rays look to get back on track tonight as they open a three-game series against the Royals.

The Rays have catcher Mike Zunino back in the lineup as he missed the last three days to be with his wife, Alyssa, for the birth of their son, Rhett. With Zunino reinstated from the paternity list, Nick Ciuffo was optioned back to Durham.

With Ji-Man Choi out of the lineup again due to a calf strain, Brandon Lowe will get his first opportunity at first base. He played there several times during the spring, but the Rays seemed to abandon that experiment with Choi playing well and then Joey Wendle going on the DL, giving Lowe time at second base.

The Rays may have a more definitive timetable today on how long they expect to be without outfielder Austin Meadows, who was played on the injured list Sunday with a right thumb sprain. GM Erik Neander said on WDAE Monday morning they are hoping his absence will be limited to "a few weeks.''

The Rays tonight are starting righty Yonny Chirinos, who gets the opportunity as they wanted to avoid using openers three days in a row again.

Here is the Rays lineup:

Lowe 1b

Pham lf

Diaz dh

Wendle 2b

Garcia rf

Kiermaier cf

Robertson 3b

Zunino c

Adames ss

Chirinos p

And here is the Royals lineup:

Whit Merrifield 2b

Mondesi ss

Gordon lf

Dozier dh

O’Hearn 1b

Owings 3b

Soler rf

Maldonado c

Hamilton cf

Keller p


  1. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash talks with reporters in the dugout the day after clinching a playoff spot. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Former Ray Rocco Baldelli wins top honors after his first season with the Twins, Aaron Boone was second.
  2. Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, addresses the media during a press conference at Tropicana Field Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Award came from a vote of team executives; Yankees Cashman was second.
  3. Flanked by his mother, Michelle Alonso, left, father Peter Alonso (blue shirt, standing), girlfriend Haley Walsh, right, and friends, New York Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso, 24, reacts as he finds out he has won the National League Rookie of the Year award on Monday at his home in Tampa.  Alonso, a Plant High graduate, made a grand entrance to the big leagues, hitting a major-league rookie and team-record 53 home runs for the Mets. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The easiest part of the day for the travel-weary first baseman may have been receiving the prestigious award.
  4. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash speaks at a news conference before an Oct. 1 American League wild-card game practice in Oakland, Calif. JEFF CHIU  |  AP
    Marc Topkin: The Twins Rocco Baldelli and Yankees Aaron Boone are the other two finalists for the hard-to-define award.
  5. Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe (8) is showered with sunflower seeds after hitting a solo homer in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Former Plant High and Florida star Pete Alonso a favorite for NL Rookie of the Year, to be announced Monday
  6. Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, says of the general manager meetings, which start this week, "We’d love to find a way to score a lot more runs without sacrificing run prevention.'' DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rays Tales: Erik Neander says 2019 success provides “a stronger starting point” than they have had in a while. Plus, rumblings.
  7. Manager Kevin Cash has led the Rays to back-to-back seasons of 90 or more victories. He finished third in the American League Manager of the Year voting in 2018 and is one of three finalists again this year with the winner being announced on Tuesday. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    John Romano: His profile is as low as Tampa Bay’s payroll, but AL Manager of the Year candidate Kevin Cash consistently gets the most out of the Rays.
  8. ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times
Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro (33) talks to umpire Bruce Dreckman at the bottom of the fourth inning against Texas Rangers on Sunday, June 30, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. 
 ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The other finalists, per a report, are Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.
  9. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash (16) pumps his fist while walking onto the field just prior to taking on the Houston Astros for Game 3 of the American League Division Series in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Charlie Morton is in the top 3 for the Cy Young Award and Brandon Lowe for Rookie of the Year honors as well.
  10. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash (16) smiles in the dugout just prior to the Rays taking on the Houston Astros in Game 2 of the American League Division Series Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019 in Houston. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Manager Kevin Cash seems to have the best chance to be among the top three for the four major awards.