ST. PETERSBURG — When the Rays traded former All-Star outfielder Austin Meadows to the Tigers on April 4, at least part of the reason was to open a spot for the multi-talented Josh Lowe, who had power, speed and a better upside defensively.
In an unexpected move following Sunday’s 9-3 loss to the Twins at Tropicana Field, the Rays optioned Lowe to Triple-A Durham. Lowe, 24, hit cleanup Sunday and went 1-for-4 with a double. This season, he’s batting .188 with one home run and six RBIs in 19 games.
The Rays must reduce their active roster by one more player to 26 by Monday afternoon.
Last season at Durham, Lowe hit .291 with 22 home runs, 78 RBIs, 26 steals and a .916 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
The move was announced after Sunday’s game, as manager Kevin Cash and his players were off for a West Coast road trip. At the time of the Meadows trade, baseball operations president Erik Neander expressed great confidence in Lowe.
“He’s a very dynamic talent,” Neander said. “For someone (24 years old), it’s about as advanced an approach at the plate when it comes to the pitches he’s swinging at. He has the potential to be an All-Star player. That’s how we see him.”
Choi to 10-day injured list
The Rays placed first baseman Ji-Man Choi (loose bodies in his right elbow) on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to April 28, but Cash said he hopes Choi will be healthy enough to join the team during its three-city, 10-game West Coast road trip that begins Monday in Oakland.
“He took some swings (Sunday), and he’s trending in the right direction,” Cash said. “But we need to get him right to where it’s not something where he’s wavering back and forth. We’ll look to get him into some games later in the week, then hopefully he joints us — if all goes well — on the trip at some point.
“I think every hitter probably has loose bodies right now. If you hit a lot, you’re going to have those. It’s where they move. And it sounds like Ji-Man irritated it, shifted it one way, and it caused some irritation. So he was better (Sunday). He was better (Saturday). That’s a good sign.”
Choi, batting .357 with two home runs and 10 RBIs, had missed four straight games prior to being placed on the IL. He was limited to 83 games (71 starts) last season, when he had three trips to the IL (right knee surgery, left groin strain, left hamstring strain).
The Rays activated Isaac Paredes, the player acquired in the Meadows trade, and he started at third base. Parades went 1-for-4 (infield single) and made a couple of nice plays at third.
Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene
Subscribe to our free Sports Today newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
“I don’t know him that well, but the little bit that I heard when we acquired him and then talking to (Durham manager) Brady Williams, he likes him a lot,” Cash said. “He has played good defense over there. I know he has swung the bat well. Brady has said he certainly looks the part. Another exciting young player that we can get up there, get some reps and see how it plays out.”
Shortstop Wander Franco was scratched from the starting lineup with right hamstring tightness. Cash, who termed it more of a precautionary move after playing a long homestand on the Trop’s turf, said he expects Franco to return Monday at Oakland. … Catcher Francisco Mejia, who was on the COVID list and hasn’t played since April 22, was cleared medically. Mejia will play Monday and Tuesday at extended spring training in Port Charlotte, then his path will be determined. … There was a pregame moment of silence for Rays bullpen catcher Jean Ramirez, who died by suicide in January. The Rays wore “JR” T-shirts, “98″ stickers (Ramirez’s number) on their batting helmets and green ribbons on their chests to mark the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month. Ramirez’s family stood with the players during the moment of silence and national anthem. … Right-hander Robert Dugger, active for parts of the last three seasons in the majors with the Marlins and Mariners, pitched the final 5-1/3 innings after being called up from Triple-A Durham. Dugger took the spot of right-hander Javy Guerra, who was designated for assignment.
• • •
Sign up for the Rays Report weekly newsletter to get fresh perspectives on the Tampa Bay Rays and the rest of the majors from sports columnist John Romano.