Rays Brandon Lowe sore, on crutches and day-to-day with leg bruise

Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe exited the game against the Orioles on Tuesday after fouling a ball of his right leg.
DIRK SHADD   |   TimesTampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe (8) rounds the bases after he connects to hit a solo home run beating Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Asher Wojciechowski (29) during the first inning at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, on Tuesday, July 2, 2019. On left is Baltimore Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz (14)
DIRK SHADD | TimesTampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe (8) rounds the bases after he connects to hit a solo home run beating Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Asher Wojciechowski (29) during the first inning at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, on Tuesday, July 2, 2019. On left is Baltimore Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz (14)
Published July 2

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays seemingly dodged an injury scare after infielder Brandon Lowe exited Tuesday’s game after fouling a ball off his right leg during a sixth inning at-bat, as x-rays were negative and he was diagnosed with a bruise and considered day to day.

Lowe was sore and on crutches after the game, but somewhat relieved it wasn’t worse.

“It hurts.” Lowe said. “It hit me in a good spot. I honestly didn’t want to come out of the game, but it was probably the right call at the time. We’ll get it evaluated (Wednesday) and see what happens. Right now, I can’t say anything, but I’ll come in each day and get better and better each day.”

With Lowe and first baseman Ji-Man Choi both banged up, the Rays are planing to call up Mike Brosseau, the rookie who made an impressive debut on the last road trip. The specific corresponding move will be made on Wednesday.

In his third plate appearance of the night, Lowe went down in pain after fouling a ball off his shin. He completed his at bat after he was checked on by staff, but he hobbled out of the box with a noticeable limp as he singled to left.

He was replaced by pinch runner Yandy Diaz.

Lowe hit his team-high 16th homer of the season, tying Evan Longoria’s rookie record for home runs before the break, in the first inning. He drove in the Rays’ second run in the third inning, giving him 49 RBIs on the season, which also leads the Rays.

The return of Diaz last week from the injured list, along with Joey Wendle’s return nearly three weeks ago, gave the Rays a healthy infield for the first time this season. (Matt Duffy continues to work his way back from a season-long hamstring issue and could start a rehab assignment this week.

Lowe’s homer was his first since June 16, and he had been struggling through an 3-for-25 stretch before Tuesday’s three-hit game.

Pruitt recalled, Yarbrough optioned

The Rays recalled right-handed pitcher Austin Pruitt on Tuesday before their matchup with the Orioles.In his three years of inconsistent playing time for the Rays, Pruitt owns a 5.08 ERA over 168 1/3 innings. Rays manager Kevin Cash said that the decision to recall Pruitt stems from the need for bullpen help. “He did a nice job in Oakland a week ago,” Cash said of Pruitt. “He’s another guy in the bullpen that can provide 65 to 80 pitches.” Ryan Yarbrough was optioned to make room for Pruitt on the active roster. Cash said Yarbrough will make one start for Durham and then rejoin the Rays after the July 8-11 All-Star break.

Wendle getting back on track

Joey Wendle returned to the lineup on Tuesday, batting eighth and playing third base after a day off on Monday. When Wendle first returned from the Injured List on June 14, he collected only one hit in his first eight games back. In eight games from June 22 to June 30, Wendle collected nine hits, including a pair of doubles. “I’m just getting a little more comfortable in the box,” Wendle said. “My timing has gotten a little bit better. I’ve also had a couple balls just kind of fall, some weak contact, for hits.”

Kiermaier coming up clutch

Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier slugged the go-ahead three-run home run in the sixth inning on Monday night and capped it off with a majestic bat flip. With his home run on Monday, Kiermaier continued his excellent performance with runners in scoring position this season. Entering play on Tuesday, Kiermaier hit .373 in 59 at-bats with runners in scoring position. “We’re seeing him, right now, in a good spot,” Cash said. “I think he keeps getting a little bit better at the plate every year.”

Miscellany

* The Rays signed seven players to open the 2019-2020 international signing period on Tuesday, according to Baseball America. The Rays’ class is highlighted by Wilmer de la Cruz, a shortstop out of the Dominican Republic who signed for a $670,000 bonus. Other international signings include shortstops Rhonniel Rodriguez, Alexis Feliz, Elias Barreat and Edwin Barragan, outfielder Jose Pena and right-handed pitcher Angel Guaiquirian.

* Minor league outfielder Jake Smolinski was granted his unconditional release from Triple-A Durham to pursue opportunities in Korea. Smolinski, 30, hit .270 with 32 extra-base hits in 67 games for the Bulls this season.

* Nate Lowe hit three homers in Durham’s 8-2 win over Charlotte.

Contact Ryan Kolakowski at rkolakowski@tampabay.com. Follow @RyanKolakowski.

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