The Rays are planning to place second baseman Brandon Lowe on the 10-day injured list, manager Kevin Cash told media members (including broadcaster Neil Solondz and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times). He’s dealing with a lower back issue and will head for further testing to determine the extent of the injury. Isaac Paredes will be recalled from Triple-A Durham to take his place on the active roster.
It’s obviously a tough blow for the Rays, who trail the Yankees by four and a half games in the early going. Lowe is one of the team’s top position players, an impact bat capable of slotting both at the top and in the middle of the lineup. The University of Maryland product blasted 39 home runs last season en route to a tenth-place finish in AL MVP balloting, his second consecutive year earning down-ballot support. Lowe strikes out a bit more often than the average batter, but he typically draws enough walks to maintain strong on-base numbers and is one of the game’s better power hitters.
Lowe is off to a bit of a slow start by his lofty standards. He’s hitting just .212 with a .293 on-base percentage through 32 games, and each of his early triple-slash marks are career worsts. That’s in the context of a league-wide offensive outage through the season’s first month and a half, though, and Lowe’s production has still been solid against that backdrop. The left-handed hitter has been 16 percentage points above-average by measure of wRC+, and he’s started 28 of the club’s 35 games at the keystone.
Tampa Bay does have a collection of highly-regarded young infielders capable of stepping into a greater role. Taylor Walls has been playing regularly all around the infield, and he and Vidal Bruján figure to see steady playing time. Paredes, acquired from the Tigers just before Opening Day for Austin Meadows, could see time at either of second or third base. As he has throughout his young career, he’s hitting very well at Triple-A. Paredes has a .263/.354/.484 mark in 25 games with Durham.