April 22: Rays general manager Erik Neander said this morning in an appearance on 95.3 WDAE that the organization hopes to be without Meadows for “a few weeks” (Twitter link via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times).
April 21: The Rays have placed outfielder Austin Meadows on the 10-day injured list due to a sprained right thumb. This was one of a series of roster moves made by the club this morning, as Tampa Bay also activated utilityman Joey Wendle from the IL, optioned righty Jake Faria to Triple-A, and called up utilityman Andrew Velazquez and right-hander Emilio Pagan. Right-hander Hunter Wood has also been placed on the paternity list.
Meadows’ status is the headline from this bunch of items, as the 23-year-old has been a major contributor to the Rays’ early run to the top of the AL East. Meadows has hit a blistering .351/.422/.676 with six homers over 83 plate appearances this season, showing the potential that made him one of the game’s top prospects coming up in the Pirates’ farm system. Pittsburgh dealt Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, and prospect Shane Baz to the Rays for Chris Archer last July in a trade that is already looking like a major success for Tampa, given how Meadows and Glasnow have excelled in 2019.
While losing Meadows is a blow, Wendle is a more than solid replacement in the corner outfield slots. Wendle was a breakout star in his own right in 2018, hitting .300/.354/.435 over 545 PA to earn a fourth-place finish in AL Rookie Of The Year voting. Wendle only appeared in four games this year before hitting the IL due to a hamstring strain, which opened the door for Brandon Lowe to blossom as the everyday second baseman.
The Rays’ penchant for lineup flexibility will likely mean that Wendle sees time all over the diamond, and while the bulk of his experience is as an infielder, Wendle did start 13 games in left field last season. Velazquez is also likely to see some time in the corner outfield positions, as well as providing further depth behind Kevin Kiermaier in center field.