ST. PETERSBURG – The next few weeks won’t be easy for Austin Meadows with his sprained right thumb in a cast, given that he eats, writes and does just everything right-handed except play baseball.
But the good news is that there was no bad news, an exam by hand specialist Dr. Doug Carlan showing no need for surgery, and the potential for the hot-hitting outfielder to return to the lineup in about three weeks.
“It’s great news,’’ manager Kevin 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, injured Saturday when he hit his hand on base on a triple, was obviously relieved.
“It’s just a sprain, so nothing crazy, serious. Hopefully nothing too long. I know it’s going to be a little sore,’’ he said. “It is what it is. 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.”
Meadows was hitting .351 with a team-high six homers and 19 RBIs. Veteran right-handed hitter Avisail Garcia is likely to get more playing time in rightfield, and Brandon Lowe may get some time out there. Lowe took Meadows leadoff spot, chose over Joey Wendle, who hit cleanup.
Snell throwing, Choi feeling better
Ace Blake Snell threw off the mound Monday and reported no issues with his broken right toe, with the Rays optimistic he can rejoin the rotation soon, perhaps as soon as Wednesday. … First baseman Ji-Man Choi said the left calf strain that knocked him out of action Saturday was feeling much better, and he could be back in the lineup Tuesday.
Lowe made his first start at first base, having worked and played there during spring training, but not as much since. Lowe said he was confident the experience would pay off, and that his biggest concern was being in the right place for relay throws. “It’ll be fun,’’ he said. “It’ll be interesting.’’ And, as it turned out, relatively uneventful.
Catcher Mike Zunino rejoined the team after being with his wife, Alyssa, and new son, Rhett Michael, who was born Friday night. “There’s nothing like it,’’ Zunino said. “It was the greatest day of my life. A very special moment.’’ The big event came a few weeks sooner than expected, but Zunino said the doctors gave them enough warning to get back to Gainesville in plenty of time. As for the name? They considered a couple, but Alyssa is a big fan of country singer Thomas Rhett so they went with that. With Zunino reinstated from the three-day paternity list, Nick Ciuffo was optioned back to Triple-A Durham. … Reliever Hunter Wood went on the paternity list Sunday, he and wife Hannah set for their third child, with Emilio Pagan recalled.
Numbers of the day
Rays record against the Royals from 2012-2016, and from 2017 on.
* Top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell had his sore right elbow checked by Dr. James Andrews, and there was no structural damage or major concern. Honeywell, who had made one extended spring start in his Tommy John rehab, will remain shut down for a while but if he responds to rest he should only be set back weeks, not months, in his planned return this season.
* Infielder/outfielder Andrew Velazquez was called up Sunday, though it was a little bit of a process as he first declined the 1:30 a.m. call from Triple-A manager Brady Williams because he didn’t recognize the number. Williams then texted him, and Velazquez picked up the next time.
* Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier turned 29 on Monday, and among gifts that made their way to the clubhouse were a couple boxes of his favorite beer, Busch.
* Former Rays closer Brad Boxberger is a member of the Royals bullpen, having allowed three homers in his first 10 appearances.