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Rays Journal: Matt Duffy is playing, Austin Meadows is swinging, Jose De Leon is pitching

Also, it’s a University of Maryland reunion for Adam Kolarek and Brandon Lowe, and Tyler Glasnow is now “other."
It was that kind of night for the Rays, as Tommy Pham as all smiles after a check-swing RBI double. [TOMMY GILLIGAN | Times]
It was that kind of night for the Rays, as Tommy Pham as all smiles after a check-swing RBI double. [TOMMY GILLIGAN | Times]
Published May 4, 2019
Updated May 4, 2019

BALTIMORE – There is still a lot that has to happen and go right, but the Rays are taking several steps toward getting healthier and whole.

* Third baseman Matt Duffy, sidelined since spring training with back and hamstring injuries, started a rehab assignment Friday in Port Charlotte with the Stone Crabs, going 0-for-3 and playing five innings in the field. Duffy is slated to play at least a week and potentially a couple, and if all is going well may get some time in the outfield as was planned in the spring. “It’s encouraging,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “It’s going to be a little while. In all fairness to Duff, he didn’t have a spring training (so) we’re going to look to get him a bunch of at-bats. … We’ll just take it day by day to see what we’re hearing from him.’’

* Outfielder Austin Meadows has resumed baseball activities with his sprained right thumb now out of the cast. He has started swinging a bat and doing tee work and, after a Friday exam by Dr. Doug Carlan, is slated to hit off a pitching machine on Saturday, two weeks since he was hurt. There is no set date for his return, but the original timetable of about three weeks seems reasonable.

* Right-hander Jose De Leon will start what is likely a full 30-day rehab assignment with the Stone Crabs on Saturday. That will be his first game action since August 2017, having underdone Tommy John surgery in March 2018. “He’s worked hard and I give a lot of credit to Jose,’’ Cash said. “He still has a ways to go but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.’’

* Right-hander Brent Honeywell, who underwent February 2018 Tommy John surgery, has resumed playing catch after being shut down for a couple weeks due to soreness, and should start throwing off the mound again next week. The Rays also have infielder Joey Wendle (broken wrist) and pitchers Hunter Wood (sore shoulder) and Anthony Banda (Tommy John) on the injured list.

Crab soup for all

Friday was a homecoming of sorts for Rays infielder Brandon Lowe and reliever Adam Kolarek, who played their college ball (though at different times) at the nearby University of Maryland. Kolarek, who was born, raised and still lives in the Baltimore area, had already been back once with the Rays in 2017, but said it was still special to play at Camden Yards where he went often as a kid, and had his parents and other family and friends in the stands. This was the first time for Lowe, and he wasn’t sure how many folks were coming to see him between former Terp teammates and coaches, and college friends of his and wife Madison’s, plus his parents, Caron and Tom, who drove up from their Virginia home. Lowe said he came to a few Orioles games during college but had never been on the field. “Hopefully I’ll be able to see everybody,’’ he said. “It’ll be fun.’’ It seemed to be as he led off with a double as part of a 2-for-4, two-run night.

Oversight of the day? Or is Glasnow spelled o-t-h-e-r?

Either the folks at Fox Sports are calling Rays righty Tyler Glasnow “other” or they had a big swing and a miss in their Friday morning Twitter poll asking who was the pitcher of the month among three candidates: Luis Castillo (Reds), Trevor Bauer (Indians), Justin Verlander (Astros) or other, so thus no Glasnow, who Thursday won the actual AL Pitcher of the Month award. Castillo won the NL award.

Pitching in

The Rays decided after Friday’s game that Ryne Stanek would be the opener on Saturday, with Yonny Chirinos set to get the bulk of the innings. Their plans for Sunday are less clear, with the potential for a callup form Triple-A, with lefty Ryan Yarbrough seeming most likely. Jake Faria was eliminated as a candidate when he started Friday for Durham. Another option could have been Casey Sadler, but he worked the final two innings. Also, the potential for heavy rain and a postponement on Saturday could impact the plans.

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Miscellany

* Catcher Mike Zunino was talking before the game about how he hadn’t homered at Camden Yards then he did, leaving only Detroit’s Comerica Park on his AL to-do list.

* The shutout was the Rays third this season, and first in Baltimore since April 25, 2017.

* Callup Nate Lowe extended his career-starting hitting streak to five games and logged his first RBI, a sac fly that drove in no-relation different pronunciation Brandon Lowe.

* Glasnow being voted the top AL pitcher and Brandon Lowe the top rookie on Thursday marked the third time in franchise history the Rays win two monthly league awards, but the first time by two different players. Jeremy Hellickson was won the rookie and pitcher awards in May 2011 and Chris Archer did the same in July 2013.

* Pitcher Charlie Morton and outfielder Tommy Pham are featured in Saturday’s 10 a.m. episode of MLB Network’s kids-focused Play Ball show.