ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays were relieved to hear Austin Meadows won’t need surgery on his sprained right thumb and say he could be back in the lineup within three weeks.Manager Kevin Cash said the diagnosis was “great news" as they feared an extended absence for their hot-hitting outfielder.“It’s immobilized now for 10 days or so and then we’ll see where it’s at,” Cash said. "We’ve had enough of the thumb surgeries and all that mess, so good that we finally avoid one.“Three weeks would be fair. Shut down for 10 days, see where the strength is at. Good thing is he can keep his legs in shape, he can keep his throwing arm in shape, and then as long as the strength is there when he starts swinging again.”Meadows, joking that it will be a tough stretch as he does everything else right-handed but throw and hit, was also relieved.“It’s just a sprain, so nothing crazy, serious,” Meadows said. "Hopefully nothing too long. I know it’s going to be a little sore. ... “Obviously if surgery was required it’s a lot longer time that we’re talking about.”Swelling is also a concern, and Meadows will have the thumb in a cast until that goes down. He was injured when hitting his hand on the base, or maybe the ground, after a late slide into third on a triple Saturday night.“It is what it is,” Meadows said. “It’s part of the game. You play aggressively, freak things are going to happen. Luckily it’s early (in the season) so hopefully I’ll be back out there soon.” "