Astros activating shortstop Jed Lowrie from disabled list

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Jed Lowrie is once again between disabled list stints, as the oft-injured infielder is back after sitting out the Astros’ first five games with a sprained thumb suffered late in spring training.

Lowrie went 3-for-6 on a brief minor-league rehab assignment and the switch-hitter acquired from Boston for Mark Melancon will take over as Houston’s starting shortstop after Rule 5 pick Marwin Gonzalez filled in for him.

Brian Bixler was optioned to Triple-A to make room on the roster for Lowrie, who will now try to stay healthy enough to play 100 games in a season for the first time.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.