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Rays’ Manuel Margot on track for return next week

Notes | The hot-hitting outfielder sidelined with a hamstring strain is making progress.
Tampa Bay Rays Manuel Margot (13), who is on the injured list, looks on from the dugout during the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Sunday, May 15, 2022.
Tampa Bay Rays Manuel Margot (13), who is on the injured list, looks on from the dugout during the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Sunday, May 15, 2022. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published May 21

BALTIMORE — Manuel Margot accompanied the Rays for their weekend road trip, a good sign for his recovery from a right hamstring strain and that he could be activated when eligible Wednesday.

“So far nothing tells us that’s not realistic,’’ manager Kevin Cash said Friday.

Margot said in the clubhouse the hamstring felt good. Then he showed it as he shagged balls and took batting practice with the group before the game against the Orioles, and then he showed it in a bigger test, running in leftfield with head athletic trainer Joe Benge and strength and conditioning coordinator Trung Cao as Cash watched.

“Manny was pretty adamant about wanting to come (on the trip), and we wanted him to come to keep up his routine in the cage and hit on the field and stuff,’’ Cash said. “The hope is if he has three good days, we’re talking about maybe getting him some sort of (rehabilitation) game on Monday or Tuesday.’’

Margot, who had been the Rays’ top hitter at the time, was first injured May 9 in Anaheim, returned to play May 13 and was placed on the injured list May 15. The Rays have since lost another of their top offensive players, Brandon Lowe, to a back injury for at least a month.

Pitching in: Shane Baz, JT Chargois, Chris Mazza

The Rays also were encouraged by starter Shane Baz’s first rehab outing for Triple-A Durham on Thursday, when he allowed one hit (a homer) and struck out five over 2⅓ innings.

“Thrilled,’’ Cash said “96-99 (mph), bunch of punchouts, threw strikes, offspeed pitches looked well.’’

Better, Cash said, was that Baz, who had March arthroscopic elbow surgery, came out of it well.

“I was more excited that he felt good (Friday),’’ Cash said.

Baz is slated to make another rehab start Tuesday, then potentially two more in an effort to get built up to five innings and/or around 90 pitches. He is eligible to be reinstated June 6, and Cash said that all indications are good for a return around then.

Reliever JT Chargois was to make his first rehab appearance for Durham on Friday, but when he started to warm up, he felt tightness in the left oblique that first sidelined him in April, and he is headed for an MRI exam and further evaluation. Reliever Chris Mazza (back) threw an inning Friday in his first rehab appearance.

COVID-19 issues for Double-A team

Double-A Montgomery canceled its games through Sunday, making five total, due to a COVID-19 outbreak that has sidelined more than a dozen players and staff. “We’re assessing the totality of the situation, but luckily none of the cases have presented severe health issues,’’ Rays vice president Carlos Rodriguez said.

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Randy Arozarena had a career-high-matching four hits and reached base five times in Friday’s 8-6, 13-inning loss to the Orioles. ... First base coach Chris Prieto, who also handles outfield play and baserunning, worked with several players before the game to learn the caroms and angles of the leftfield wall, which was moved back and increased in height. … Isaac Paredes, who is more comfortable at third base, made the start at second. Cash said they were “challenging him a little bit.’’ Paredes played well, making several good plays, then was replaced in the seventh by Taylor Walls. ... Rays players and staff are wearing camouflage caps, socks and other gear to note Armed Forces Weekend.

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