ST. PETERSBURG — In about a week, the Rays lineup could have a different, much-needed and much-improved look.
That’s what the addition of Manuel Margot, Wander Franco and Harold Ramirez could do.
A lot has to go right, starting with no setbacks in the final stages of rehabilitation of Margot’s right knee (patellar tendon strain), Franco’s right hand (surgery to repair broken hamate bone) and thumb right of Ramirez (fractured by a pitch).
No additional issues like leg muscle stiffness from not running the basics at full speed. No rain, to delay minor league rehab games. No freak events, like Brandon Lowe getting hit in the helmet by a pitch during his first batting rehab at Triple-A Durham.
But if all goes well, a roster that has been sluggish for much of the season and has struggled lately — three points or less in 13 of the All-Stars’ first 18 break games — should be significantly better off. more productive.
Ramirez, injured in the last game before the break, had become the Rays’ best offensive player, posting a 0.329 average and 0.825 OPS, and a contact-oriented approach (13.6% strikeout rate) that maintained the rallies. And he is likely to be the first to return.
Before being sidelined in late June, Margot had been one of their most productive players, hitting .302 with a .788 OPS in 51 games, after missing some time earlier with hamstring strain. leggings.
Franco, the most dynamic of the three, was feeling better at the plate before his injury in early July, struggling to get back into the groove after missing a month, and being limited before that with quadriceps and other issues. leg problems. Still, anything close to his .260 average and .704 OPS will be an improvement over the .170/.539 replacement Taylor Walls put in (while still playing generally spectacular defense).
And these are just the obvious advantages. There should also be an intangible boost to the confidence and collective psyche of the bruised and battered team to see all three players return, to have the chatter and buzz in the corner of the clubhouse where they have adjacent lockers.
“It will be very important to have these guys (back),” said outfielder Randy Arozarena, via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “I hope they all start the way they ended when they fell. They are going to be important elements in gaining ground in this division. I hope they can come back soon and strengthen us as soon as possible.
Want more than box score?
Subscribe to our free Rays Report newsletter
Columnist John Romano will be sending out the latest Rays news and analysis to keep you up to date each week during the season.
You are all registered!
Want more of our free weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s start.
Explore all your options
Arozarena stands to benefit personally, as do Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Diaz and Lowe, the four accomplished hitters who anchored the roster. Also, recent additions David Peralta and Jose Siri, who haven’t done much to help yet.
“It makes the game a lot easier to know that these (three) guys are in the lineup for you, to protect you,” Arozarena said.
With the return of the talented trio, expect to see fewer Walls, Yu Chang (.218, .625 total in 2022), Isaac Paredes (.217, .745), Roman Quinn (.219, .603) and Luke Raley (.190, .580).
All-Star starter Shane McClanahan is among those eager to see how it all plays out.
“We have guys coming back soon and we’re all excited for that,” he said. “So everyone is healthy and just trying to win a lot of ball games.”
Brett Phillips makes his mark
Seminole native Brett Phillips – whose Aug. 1 farewell video has been viewed more than 705,000 times – received an expected warm welcome from fans and former teammates as he returned to Tropicana Field on Friday with his new Orioles team, and a nice tribute video on the scoreboard.
Phillips said most of the right things, like publicly thanking Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander for trading him to the Orioles — given his career-best numbers at Camden Yards — rather than a situation. less comfortable or to put it on derogation after having designated it. for assignment.
“It just reinforced everything I believed about Erik and the front office,” he said. “They are top-notch people and it was just an absolute pleasure to play for them.”
Phillips remarked Friday that “I’m leaving bigger and better” with the Orioles, and “a great opportunity” for his career.
In Baltimore, Phillips stayed with reliever Joey Krehbiel, who was also his teammate at Seminole High.
Brandon Lowe and his wife Madison announced on Instagram last week that they were expecting their first child in February. They are planning a gender reveal event; Brandon assured that it wouldn’t be the one where the father hits a ball and it explodes into pink or blue powder. … An important twist to the new playoff plan: there is no longer Game 163, so the playoffs of the season are the first tiebreakers; the Rays and Orioles are 9-9 going into play on Sunday. … In a streak of 17 consecutive days of play, the Rays can choose to work in a bullpen day or a point start (Luis Patino?) to provide an extra day off for starters. … Korean performer Daniel Park was good sport to be a guest participant in the sausage mascot race in Wednesday’s game in Milwaukee, running like the Polish sausage and finishing fourth, out of five. … Randy Arozarena’s younger brother, Raiko, backup goaltender for the Rays-owned Rowdies football team, was loaned to forward team Madison (Wisc.) SC last month to continue his development with more playing time. … The Rays slipped from second to third in the updated farm systems rankings after ESPN’s trade deadline, with Kiley McDaniel noting that they retained most of their prospects and that they had “another deep draft even with Xavier Isaac. “… The Rays will make three trips to the West Coast, according to a version of the 2023 schedule to be released this week, two with just one week in between in June.
• • •
Sign up for the Rays Report weekly newsletter to get fresh insights on the Tampa Bay Rays and the rest of the majors from sports columnist John Romano.
Never miss the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida College Sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.