Rays dealt blow with losses of Lowe, Baz for season
Bad back shuts down slugging second baseman, while TJ surgery will sideline electric right-hander until 2024
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays will be without one of their top hitters for the rest of this year and one of their top young arms until 2024.
Slugging second baseman Brandon Lowe will be shut down for the rest of the season, manager Kevin Cash announced Saturday, as his lower back discomfort has not subsided following multiple injections. Right-hander Shane Baz, who entered this season as Tampa Bay’s top prospect, will soon undergo Tommy John surgery and be out all next season.
Baz attempted to throw a 15-pitch bullpen session on Saturday, Cash said, and “just did not respond, didn’t feel good.” The procedure will sideline the 23-year-old starter for the rest of this year and all of the 2023 campaign. After an excellent debut in 2021, Baz posted a 5.00 ERA in only six starts for the Rays this season and hasn’t pitched since July 10.
Lowe is not expected to require surgery to address his back, which kept him out for 55 games earlier this season and has sidelined him since Sept. 11. Cash said Lowe’s back “just wasn’t responding” to treatment. So Lowe, who hit 39 homers last year and led the team in WAR each of the past two seasons, will finish this season with eight homers in 65 games.
“Give him credit. He went and got more injections than anybody would want,” Cash said. “It’s a 24- to 48-hour turnaround [after the injections] 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. … But I think, at this point, rest is key.”
There was some good, albeit expected, news for the Rays on the injury front. Right-hander Tyler Glasnow is slated to rejoin their rotation next week in Cleveland after completing his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery with four dominant starts for Triple-A Durham.
Glasnow allowed one run on one hit and four walks while striking out 14 batters over seven innings for Durham, flashing the same top-of-the-rotation stuff he showed before going down for the year in Chicago last June. Glasnow may not be fully stretched out, but he will nonetheless have two outings to show what kind of weapon he can be for the Rays as part of their postseason pitching staff.
“Feel confident where he’s at, very encouraged with his build-up and looking forward to seeing him on the mound with our jersey on,” Cash said.
The rest of Saturday’s news only added to an already long list of injuries the Rays have overcome this season.
Star shortstop Wander Franco has worked his way back from two significant injuries that cut into his sophomore season, while outfielder Manuel Margot has been limited to 81 games due to a midseason knee injury. Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier went down for the season in July, as did catcher Mike Zunino.
All-Star reliever Andrew Kittredge had Tommy John surgery in June, and high-leverage righty J.P. Feyereisen has been out since June 3 due to a shoulder issue. Brendan McKay hasn’t pitched at all this season, Ryan Thompson went down at the end of August, and Ryan Yarbrough strained his oblique on Thursday.
Yet somehow, having used 59 players this year, the Rays entered Saturday night’s game at Tropicana Field tied with the Blue Jays atop the American League Wild Card standings.
“They're resilient,” Cash said. “Hearing those names, it frustrates you, puts you in a bad mood because it's kind of, 'Well, what if all those guys stayed healthy?' But [I] really appreciate and applaud the guys that have come in and filled some really big shoes.”