ST. PETERSBURG -- With Avisail Garcia (left hamstring tightness) and Tommy Pham (right calf) out of the Rays' lineup for the second consecutive game on Saturday, Tampa Bay recalled top first-base prospect Nate Lowe and optioned left-handed pitcher Adam Kolarek to Triple-A Durham.
Lowe, the club’s No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, batted fifth on Saturday against Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson, giving Tampa Bay five left-handed hitters in the starting lineup. With right-hander Jake Odorizzi scheduled to pitch on Sunday, it’s likely that Lowe will be in the lineup in back-to-back games.
“Gibson is tough on both, but in theory righties,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Knowing that Pham and Avi are still a little banged up and achy, it probably made sense.”
In nine games with the Rays this season, Lowe hit .257 with one RBI.
Cash said the decision to option Kolarek was just to give him a bit of a breather, considering he had been up and ready in the bullpen for six straight days. Kolarek allowed the game-winning hit to Eddie Rosario on Friday, but it was the first time he had allowed an inherited runner to score this season.
“It’s kind of unfortunate, just kind of the odd man out,” Cash said. “He had been up six days in a row, and I know his numbers have been skewed a little bit here lately since he’s faced some righties, but that’s not his role.
“But get AK down there [in Triple-A] and a couple of days off and then look to get him on a roll again, because he was a big part of what we’re doing and will continue to be.”
Cash also said that Pham and Garcia were available off the bench on Saturday, but he wanted to give the two right-handers a second consecutive day off before possibly inserting them back in the lineup on Sunday.
“I would love to stay away from them [on Saturday],” Cash said. “But both of them came in feeling much, much better today, so that’s a good thing.”
Injury updates on Diaz, Perez
The plan was for infielder Yandy Diaz (left hand) to take four to five at-bats in extended camp in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Saturday. Diaz and the Rays felt comfortable enough to send him to Port Charlotte after his hand showed some improvement after Friday’s batting practice session.
It’s still unclear what the full plan for Diaz will be. It will depend on how the hand reacts to Saturday’s work.
“Just have him get some at-bats and get his feedback,” Cash said. “He’s going to go field to field and get at-bats and see how he feels. React to some breaking balls, maybe see a couple of fastballs in. Just don’t get hit again.”
Catcher Michael Perez (right oblique) went to Port Charlotte to hit live batting practice off Anthony Banda (Tommy John) and was scheduled to get checked out on Saturday. If all goes well, Perez will play in a game for the Class A Advanced Stone Crabs on Sunday. With Mike Zunino returning on Friday, the Rays could be close to getting their top two catchers back on the active roster.
“Today [Saturday], just kind of a check-in day,” Cash said. “If he feels good, I think we might be sending him out tomorrow to play, potentially. Our hope is that he’s going to play tomorrow.”
Pitch Hit & Run results
Prior to Saturday’s game, the top 12 baseball and top 12 softball qualifiers from Central and Northern Florida competed at Tropicana Field in hopes of advancing to the National Finals during 2019 Major League Baseball All-Star Week in Cleveland. The team champions were:
For the 7- and 8-year-old Softball Division: Nora Kretchman from Orlando, Fla.
For the 7- and 8-year-old Baseball Division: Jacoby Husselbee from Orlando.
For the 9- and 10-year-old Softball Division: Benny Powell from Tallahassee, Fla
For the 9- and 10-year-old Baseball Division: Justin Cronin from Port Orange, Fla.
For the 11- and 12-year-old Softball Division: Desiray Hodges from Orlando
For the 11- and 12-year-old Baseball Division: Elijah Sealey from Orlando
For the 13- and 14-year-old Softball Division: Ali Strickland from Clearwater, Fla.
For the 13- and 14-year-old Baseball Division: Drew Pynes from Orlando