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Rays’ Shane Baz will have Tommy John surgery, miss 2023 season

Notes | Second baseman Brandon Lowe won’t return this season due to a lower back issue.
Shane Baz's season is done, as he is headed for Tommy John surgery. Baz initially was injured in July and was advised by doctors to try a program of rest, treatment and rehab.
Shane Baz's season is done, as he is headed for Tommy John surgery. Baz initially was injured in July and was advised by doctors to try a program of rest, treatment and rehab. [ AARON DOSTER | AP ]
Published Sep. 24|Updated Sep. 25

ST. PETERSBURG — Promising Rays right-handed pitcher Shane Baz will undergo Tommy John elbow surgery this week and miss all of the 2023 season.

Also, manager Kevin Cash said second baseman Brandon Lowe won’t return this year due to a recurrence of back issues.

Baz, 23, was injured in July and advised by doctors to try a program of rest, treatment and rehab. But a 15-pitch throwing session Saturday morning made clear there was no progress, and Baz will have the surgery. “Didn’t feel good,” Cash said.

The timing will make it a bit tricky for Baz to definitely be ready for the start of the 2024 season given that he won’t be able to log any 2023 innings.

“That (rest program) was doctor’s orders: Let’s see what we can do,” Cash said. “I think it’s always a last resort to go in there (with surgery) and miss that time. But yeah, it sets the timeline that (much) farther back.”

Baz missed the first two months of the season after a March procedure to remove a loose body from his elbow, debuted June 11 and made six starts, going 1-2, 5.00 before leaving a rough July 10 start in the third inning.

Lowe, who led the Rays with 39 homers last season, had somewhat of a lost 2022. He struggled early in the season, was out from mid-May to mid-July with a lower back issue, was sidelined again in late August after being hit on the right elbow by a pitch, then was place on the injured list for the third time in mid-September when his back again bothered him and he received a series of epidural and other injections.

“Just wasn’t responding,” Cash said. “Give him credit. He went and got more injections than anybody would want. But he did that, and it’s generally … a 24/48-hour turnaround and you know right away if you’re good or if you’re not, and he just did not respond. So hopefully we can get him right.

“He’ll go into the offseason with a lot of different things that he’s probably going to have to do, core issues, but I think at this point, rest is key.”

Goodbye for KK?

Kevin Kiermaier tips his hat to fans following a video tribute to him during Saturday's game.
Kevin Kiermaier tips his hat to fans following a video tribute to him during Saturday's game. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

The Rays seemed to be saying goodbye to longtime centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier on Saturday with a video highlights tribute, ending with a screen displaying “Thank You KK.” Kiermaier, sidelined for the season after hip surgery, watched from the dugout and came out to salute the fans. Kiermaier is expected to become a free agent when the Rays decline his $13 million option (and pay him a $2.5 million buyout), though both he and Rays officials said they would be open to discussing the possibility of staying under a new deal.

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Yandy Diaz feeling better

Rays beat reporter Marc Topkin presents Yandy Diaz with the Rays Paul C. Smith Champion award on behalf of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Rays beat reporter Marc Topkin presents Yandy Diaz with the Rays Paul C. Smith Champion award on behalf of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Yandy Diaz said the sore left shoulder that has kept him out of the lineup since Tuesday is feeling “a lot better” since he received a cortisone injection and he hopes to rejoin the lineup soon, but doesn’t have an exact day. Cash said Diaz would test the shoulder taking swings Saturday but they also may wait until after Monday’s off-day, hoping to get him right for the rest of the season. As for last Monday’s parking lot altercation with teammate Randy Arozarena, Diaz, via team interpreter Manny Navarro, said: “There was just a misunderstanding that happens within family members and friends and is something that we now look at as in the past.”

Miscellany

Tyler Glasnow (Tommy John surgery rehab) rejoined the Rays from Triple-A Durham and is on track to be activated and pitch Wednesday. ... Wander Franco extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games.

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