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Notes: Lowe's transformation; Loup intrigues

@juanctoribio
February 17, 2020

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Nate Lowe ended the 2019 season weighing 245 pounds, but after changing his dietary and spiritual outlooks over the offseason, the infielder reported to camp on Monday nearly 20 pounds lighter. The purpose behind the dietary change? Staying versatile defensively and maintaining a role at the

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Nate Lowe ended the 2019 season weighing 245 pounds, but after changing his dietary and spiritual outlooks over the offseason, the infielder reported to camp on Monday nearly 20 pounds lighter.

The purpose behind the dietary change? Staying versatile defensively and maintaining a role at the big league level.

“Getting a taste of the big leagues and being around a winning club was fantastic and it was really cool to play my part with what the team needed last year,” Lowe said. “But there were definitely times where getting optioned, you feel left out and you feel like you’re not able to help, and my body was definitely something that was in the way of me being able to help out.”

Lowe said that he cut processed foods and sugar out of his diet, while also focusing on nuts and fruits as his primary snacks as opposed to candy and chips. He also said offseason workouts with Major Leaguers such as Francisco Lindor and Gio Urshela served as a good learning experience.

With the changes, Lowe hopes that he can remain more versatile, which could improve his chances of making the Opening Day roster. Lowe displayed good power in his limited time in the Majors last season, launching seven home runs in 152 at-bats, but bounced around from Triple-A Durham and the Majors. Finding a spot for him defensively, however, posed to be the biggest challenge for the Rays due to the other options on the roster.

Last season, Lowe’s primary position was first base, but he also got limited reps at third base. Entering spring, Lowe is expected to continue to get reps at both first and third base as he competes for one of the last roster spots. At his previous weight, Lowe said he wasn’t able to provide good defense at third base, but now feels more confident with his defensive versatility following the offseason changes, which could improve his chances of making the Opening Day roster.

“He looks good; he worked really hard,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “I don’t think any message was given to him going into the offseason that he needed to do that, but maybe he felt with his experiences and playing first, playing third, that it might benefit him to shed some weight and get a little more athletic around the bag. I take that as a good thing.”

Part of Lowe’s offseason transformation also came from his spiritual outlook. Over the last five years, Lowe has been involved with a group of people, including Major League players such as Kendall Graveman, that go on a yearly mission trip to Eleuthera, Bahamas.

As he went back to the island this winter with big league experience under his belt, Lowe said the local people treated him a bit differently. Being put on a pedestal motivated Lowe to have more success in the Majors, in order to continue to have more opportunities to help people.

Now it’s all about finding a way to translate all the positive offseason changes onto the field.

“It’s great to get a taste and to kind of get a sense that I belong with this team or belong on a Major League team,” Lowe said. “But it’s just fuel to the fire, man.”

Inside Rays camp
• With Yandy Díaz, Randy Arozarena, Lucius Fox, Ji-Man Choi and Lowe all reporting on Monday, the Rays have all 67 players at Spring Training camp.

• Monday was photo and admin day at Rays camp, which resulted in a light group taking batting practice on the field. Rays pitchers had an active day, however, with Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, José Alvarado, Nick Anderson, Chaz Roe, Brendan McKay and Anthony Banda all throwing bullpen sessions.

Cash came away impressed with Alvarado’s bullpen session -- noting the left-hander continues to throw strikes early in camp -- and Aaron Loup, who is a non-roster invitee competing for a bullpen spot.

“I still don’t see how a lefty gets in there and feels comfortable in the box with that delivery,” Cash said about Loup. “It literally looks like the ball is coming behind you. … He can really cut some angles.”

• Tuesday will be the first day of live batting practice, though it’s scheduled to be a lighter day with only a handful of pitchers scheduled to throw. Wednesday and Thursday should be more active.

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.