PORT CHARLOTTE — Nate Lowe reported to Rays camp Monday a changed man. Not only did he drop 20-plus pounds by making significant lifestyle adjustments, but he also underwent a mental and spiritual transformation.
“I realized that I had sold myself short for a long time as an athlete and as a person,” said Lowe, 24. "It took a lot of spiritual maturation and physical maturation to kind of start over (this) offseason to get to be the player and the person that I need to be.
“Taking these couple steps and getting my body in check and getting my mind in check and getting my faith in check definitely is something that led to getting to this point. And something we’d like to grow on from here on out.”
Lowe debuted with the Rays last season, hitting .263 with seven homers and 19 RBIs in 50 games over four call-ups, but was disappointed he didn’t do more.
That experience, and some advice from teammates, motivated him to make changes, dropping from 245-250 pounds at season’s end to 220-225.
"There were a couple guys in this clubhouse last year that would kind of bring it up here and there and poke fun at it, and the underlying message was ‘Hey, dude, you’ve got a couple extra pounds to lose,’” Lowe said.
His plan was multifaceted, changing his diet (cutting processed foods and sugars), running and conditioning programs (including a road bike) and sleep patterns.
“You name it, I tried it,” Lowe said. “It was all about being more intentional about taking care of the body the way it deserves to be taken care of. Being a professional athlete … there’s no excuse at that point to why you come into an offseason out of shape and not ready to go.”
Further motivation came from working out in Orlando with other big-leaguers such as Francisco Lindor (Indians), Gio Urshela (Yankees) and Austin Allen (A’s), with a goal to be more flexible and versatile defensively, playing first and third.
Lowe said the mental and spiritual changes were also important, crystallized during an annual mission trip to Eleuthera in the Bahamas, where he found his big-league time gave him a larger platform.
“It’s just opening more opportunities for me to be the person that I’m intended to be and for God to work through me to talk to them," he said. “It’s exciting to grow this way.”
Lowe said he hopes his increased athleticism leads to increased opportunity, though it would appear he is headed back to Triple-A, at least to start the season.
Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Diaz, who emerged as the primary first and third basemen, reported to camp feeling good and looking to build on their 2019 success. Diaz, sporting “a new flow” with reddish-brown hair atop his head, said he took about two months to fully recover after making an end-of-season return from a July 22 left foot injury. The well-muscled Diaz said he gained weight while inactive but has shed pounds since resuming workouts, doing “a lot less weightlifting” and focusing more on flexibility. Choi spent most of the offseason in his native South Korea, working primarily on improving his swing.
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The first full-squad workout starts at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Charlotte Sports Park (2300 El Jobean Road), with pitchers throwing live batting practice. … Outfielder Randy Arozarena and infielders Lucius Fox were the other position players to report Monday, with all 67 players in camp. … There was no update on infielder Kevin Padlo, who the team said was “removed from baseball activities while he deals with a non-baseball related illness.” … Cash said Alvarado and veteran non-roster left-handed pitcher Aaron Loup were impressive in their bullpen sessions. … Pitcher Brent Honeywell was proudly sporting his new “party mullet” hairstyle. … Top starters Blake Snell and Charlie Morton threw their bullpen sessions Monday in The Lab area behind regular mounds, where the team has some of its high-tech data devices and cameras to measure spin rates and other such things. … Infield coach Rodney Linares is working with Jose Martinez on his defense at first base.