Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

Rays’ Brandon Lowe out for rest of season due to latest injury

The infielder strained his left quad Wednesday while playing in a game at Triple-A Durham to rehab from his right leg bruise.
Rays infielder Brandon Lowe was first injured in the July 2, 2019, game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field when he fouled a ball off his right shin. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times] [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
Rays infielder Brandon Lowe was first injured in the July 2, 2019, game against the Orioles at Tropicana Field when he fouled a ball off his right shin. [DIRK SHADD | Times] [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Aug. 22, 2019
Updated Aug. 23, 2019

BALTIMORE — How many blows can the Rays take before their chance to make the playoffs for the first time in six years blows up?

The latest came Thursday morning, when Brandon Lowe slid out of an MRI tube.

The imaging revealed a strain in his left quadriceps that all but officially ended his rookie season that was once so intriguingly promising.

Lowe was first sidelined in early July, when he fouled a ball off his right leg, sustaining a deep and severe bone bruise that took an extraordinarily long time to heal.

He was finally able to start playing rehab games last weekend and was doing well enough that the Rays were eagerly looking forward to having him back in their lineup soon, potentially for next week’s games against the AL West-leading Astros.

Now the Rays don’t expect to see him play again until spring training.

“He’s done for the year,” manager Kevin Cash said. “I think that’s the best way to say it. And if he comes back early, great.”

Lowe was playing for Triple-A Durham on Wednesday in the final stages of his long recovery and rehab, running hard to first after bouncing a ball to the right side, when he felt the quad muscle tear in his other leg.

He returned to St. Petersburg early Thursday for the MRI exam and a visit with Dr. Koco Eaton, who delivered the bad news.

The length of time missed is relative to the severity of the strain; catcher Mike Zunino had one in May and missed about three weeks. There are 5½ weeks left in the regular season, and potentially weeks of playoffs after that, but Cash dismissed the possibility of Lowe returning, which was somewhat telling.

“He’s done,” Cash said.

Lowe’s rookie season started so well, and that’s without going back to the long-term deal he signed in spring training, guaranteeing him $24 million over six years with the potential to earn up to $49 million over eight.

They figured he would hit, based on his rise from Double A to Triple A to the majors the year before, and that he did.

He posted a .276 average and was leading the team with 16 homers and 49 RBIs through 76 games while also playing good defense, primarily at second base. He had played so well that he earned selection to the AL All-Star team as an injury replacement for the Angels’ Tommy La Stella who, coincidentally, also fouled a ball off his leg the same night, sustaining a fracture. Lowe also was a strong and, by some measures, the leading candidate for AL rookie of the year.

But it took longer than anyone expected for his right leg to heal, given that initially the Rays said he would only miss a few days.

“The whole season, basically from (July 2), has kind of become a disappointment,” Cash said. “He did everything we could ask in the first half for us. Very deserving of being on the All-Star team.

“Unfortunately, the shin injury comes out and now this as he’s getting closer.

“Just not ideal. We’re equipped with some guys that certainly can come in and continue to fill that void. We’ve been doing it, but we’re going to miss him.”

One way to look at it is that the Rays have played more than seven weeks without Lowe in the lineup and done okay, going 24-18. They actually have scored slightly more (4.81 runs per game compared to 4.59 before he went down), hit more homers (1.48 per game vs. 1.24) and posted a higher OPS (.761 vs. .750).

But some of that is attributable to players who improved, and some who were added, specifically Eric Sogard, who was acquired from Toronto on July 28 and has stepped in quite well.

Another way to look at it is that the Rays would be a better team, especially against some of the tough right-handed pitchers they will be facing, with Lowe.

You know, like Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke.

But just as they’ve weathered the long-term loss of Yandy Diaz, the repeated injuries to Joey Wendle and, most recently, the absence of outfielder Avisail Garcia, the Rays will try to find a way not to just make do without Lowe but do better.

That’s how they’ve handled it on the pitching side, overcoming the loss of three starters — Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell and Yonny Chirinos — to injury and Brendan McKay pitching his way back to the minors, and they’re still very much in the playoff race.

There really is no other choice.

“Brandon was playing at an All-Star level,’’ general manager Erik Neander said. “It’s tough to lose his production. But first and foremost you feel for Brandon and what he’s been through.

“That being said, this is a resilient team, and they aren’t about to let up and feel sorry for themselves. It’s unfortunate, but they’ll keep going, keep competing. We’re not the only playoff-caliber team that’s down key players. Stay at it.’’

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash and new Japanese slugger Yoshi Tsutsugo, shown during December press conference, will have a lot to talk about during spring training. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    Rays Tales | Learning where Yoshi Tsutsugo and other newcomers best fit will be a priority in Port Charlotte.
  2. With pitching coach Kyle Snyder keeping a close eye on him at Tropicana Field on Friday, Rays prospect Brent Honeywell continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2018 and a fractured arm in 2019. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    John Romano | Once Tampa Bay’s top pitching prospect, Brent Honeywell has had elbow surgeries in successive seasons. Healthy again, he hopes to be in the majors this summer.
  3. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow prepares to warm up on the field during a player workout at Tropicana Field on Friday. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Discipline for sign-stealing scheme was lax, Rays pitchers say, as participating hitters should have been disciplined as well.
  4. Members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, who inspired the movie "A League of Their Own," will be honored at the Feb. 1 Ted Williams dinner at Tropicana Field. [GLOBE PHOTOS  |  ZUMAPRESS.com]
    Players from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, like Englewood’s Sue Parsons Zipay, will be honored at Ted Williams Museum event at the Trop.
  5. Diego Castillo (63) kicks a ball around during spring training at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte last February. [TAILYR IRVINE  | TIMES  ]
    Games will be available on TV and streamed; 21 of the exhibitions will be carried on radio.
  6. Derek Jeter speaks during the Baseball Hall of Fame news conference on Wednesday Jan. 22, 2020, a day after joining Larry Walker as members of the 2020 Hall of Fame class. [BEBETO MATTHEWS  |  AP]
    The New York Yankees great and the Baseball Hall of Fame say they are both OK not knowing who the lone voter is that kept Jeter from being a unanimous selection.
  7. Commissioner Rob Manfred says it will be used during the Class A Florida State League season.
  8. Baseball America released its annual list on Wednesday. [Baseball America]
    Wander Franco is No. 1 again, and Brendan McKay No. 14 as Rays lead the way.
  9. Out of 397 ballots cast, only one did not elect Derek Jeter to the Hall of Fame. [DAVID SANTIAGO  |  TNS via ZUMA Wire]
    A unanimous selection was the only remaining question and Jeter falls one vote short.
  10. In this file photo, American League All-Star Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees acknowledges the crowd before his first at bat during the 85th MLB All-Star Game at Target Field on July 15, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
    John Romano | A clear majority of readers reacted harshly to my suggestion that Derek Jeter, while being an all-time great shortstop, might be a little overrated.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement