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.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.