Prospect Josh Lowe is a hit in debut for Rays

Rays notes | Wander Franco extends on-base streak. Matt Wisler makes return but leaves injured.
Rays outfielder Josh Lowe, right, warms up before Wednesday's game at Fenway Park in Boston, his major-league debut.
Rays outfielder Josh Lowe, right, warms up before Wednesday's game at Fenway Park in Boston, his major-league debut. [ MARC TOPKIN | Times ]
Published Sept. 9, 2021

BOSTON — Josh Lowe’s first stay in the major leagues is expected to be short, but the Rays’ top outfield prospect made a rewarding debut.

The 24-year-old drew a walk, stole a base and had an infield single while making three catches in right before being removed for a pinch-hitter in the eighth.

“Happy for him,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Happy for the hit. Happy for the stolen base. We were all kind of marveling at the (first) at-bat to get the walk. You know the nerves are running high. But to have enough wherewithal and being in good enough headspace to lay off some what appeared to be close pitches, that was pretty impressive. And then as far as the speed, we know he can move. He gets there pretty effortlessly.”

Lowe was promoted to fill a short-term need, as the Rays were down to three outfielders. Randy Arozarena was out Wednesday and will be again Friday after returning to Florida to be his wife for the birth of their daughter, Alaia, Wednesday morning. Brett Phillips is not eligible to return from the injured list until Friday. In addition, centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier has some discomfort in his left hamstring and was slated to rest, though he played defense in the eighth inning.

But Lowe, Tampa Bay’s 2016 first-round pick and younger brother of ex-Ray Nathaniel Lowe, also was rewarded for his outstanding season at Triple-A Durham. The lefty swinger hit .282 with 21 homers, 73 RBIs, a .908 OPS and 24 steals.

“Pretty surreal. It’s an awesome moment,” Lowe said before the game, “Just taking it all in. That’s pretty much the advice I’ve gotten from everybody — family and friends, teammates, coaches — just to take in the moment, enjoy it all.”

Lowe’s mother made the trip from their Georgia home, and he had a dozen other people on the field after the game taking photos to commemorate the moment.

Wisler back, and likely out again

Reliever Matt Wisler is likely headed back to the injured list after throwing five pitches, allowing a leadoff single in the eighth, in his first action after missing 3½ weeks with right middle finger inflammation. Cash said Wisler told him he felt some discomfort warming up and wanted to “gut it out,” but the Rays don’t want to risk further injury and will give Wisler more time to get the finger right. ... First baseman Ji-Man Choi also was reinstated after missing 2½ weeks with a left hamstring strain and went 0-for-4. … To make room, reliever Louis Head was optioned to Durham for the 10th time, and reliever David Hess was designated for assignment. … Arozarena is due to return Saturday as he has to meet COVID-19 testing requirements to travel with the team to Toronto after Sunday’s game.

Wacha to start, Archer to relieve

The Rays are making what for now is an adjustment to what had been a six-man rotation, planning to start Michael Wacha Friday in Detroit and use Chris Archer out of the bullpen behind him or Luis Patino on Saturday. Cash said the change is intended in part to give Archer lighter duty, as he was extended to five innings and 78 pitches in his last outing, his heaviest workload since August 2019. He may start again next weekend. Archer said he is okay with the plan.


• Wander Franco drew an eighth-inning walk to extend his on-base streak to 38 games, trailing only Frank Robinson’s 43-game run for the 1956 Reds among players 20 and younger. Franco does now have the longest streak for a rookie shortstop of any age, surpassing Chico Carrasquel, who had 37 for the 1950 White Sox. (Technically, Franco had the mark since MLB first defined rookie status in 1958.)

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• Lowe became the 58th player used by the Rays this season, breaking the record set in 2019 and tied on Tuesday with Hess’ debut.

• Sunday’s game in Detroit was moved up an hour to 12:10 p.m. to lessen conflict with the Lions-49ers game at adjacent Ford Field.

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