ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays placed center fielder Kevin Kiermaier on the 10-day injured list on Sunday with a sprained left thumb, though they said that surgery would not be required. Outfielder Guillermo Heredia was recalled from Triple-A Durham to fill Kiermaier’s roster spot.
Kiermaier left Saturday’s 2-1, 11-inning loss
ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays placed center fielder
Kiermaier left Saturday’s 2-1, 11-inning loss to the White Sox at Tropicana Field after sliding head-first into first base in the eighth inning. Kiermaier, who came in as a defensive replacement in the eighth, hit a slow roller to the first-base side and decided to slide head-first in order to beat pitcher Aaron Bummer, who was trying to cover the bag. Kiermaier was called safe, but he immediately held his thumb and was removed from the game.
#Rays place Kevin Kiermaier on the 10-day IL with a left thumb sprain. Surgery will not be required. Recall Guillermo Heredia.
— Juan Toribio (@juanctoribio) July 21, 2019
Kiermaier said that he “regrets” his decision to slide head-first, but he was trying to make something happen for a Rays team that has lost five in a row.
“I always want to remind people that everything I do on the field, I do it with a purpose,” Kiermaier said. “Right now we have a struggling team, and things haven’t gone our way a whole lot lately, and this is when I want to play harder, and this is when I want to play with more passion. I promise you, with all due respect to my teammates, nobody cares more about winning than I do.”
The MRI came back with positive news for Kiermaier, who thinks he’ll be able to return in a couple of weeks. He’ll ice the thumb and undergo treatment over the next three days, and the team will then get a better idea of how much longer he’ll be sidelined.
“We’ve dealt with some lengthy injuries and lengthy times on the IL, and we’re optimistic that this will be a shorter stay,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “There’s some soreness in there, and we’ll probably know more here in three days, where he’ll probably do nothing but ice and treat it two or three days and then see if it makes a turn for him for the better.”
The 2015 Platinum Glove Award winner has struggled to stay healthy over the past couple of seasons prior to 2019, but he has been able to stay on the field this season, having appeared in 89 games, surpassing last year’s total of 88.
“I didn’t want to [slide into first base],” Kiermaier said. “I regret it, but at the same time, I’m going to be OK. I’m going to be back on the field much sooner than later, and I can live with that. I’m not happy that I’m going to miss a little bit of time because this team needs me, and I want to be out there playing each and every day, but I dodged a bullet, and I’ll take it.”
In 2016, Kiermaier suffered a fracture in his right hand and missed 48 games. The following year, Kiermaier missed 61 games after suffering a hairline fracture on his right hip as he, again, was sliding into first base. Then last season, Kiermaier injured his right thumb as he slid into second base and missed two months.
“It’s the way he plays. You can’t take that away from the guy,” Cash said on Saturday. “He plays hard. He runs like a bat out of hell when he’s in center field, diving all over, and he’s going to do that on the bases, that’s his style of play. It’s just unfortunate that it happened.”
Duffy close to being activated
Duffy, who has not played this season because of recurring left hamstring issues, will play third base and shortstop and will be a needed addition to a Rays lineup that is looking for any kind of a spark.
“We just have to see how our pitching lines up,” Cash said about which day Duffy will be activated. “We look forward to having him back. He’s taken the long road back, but we’re excited to have him back.”
Other injury news
There’s still no timetable for
“His steps seem really calculated still,” Cash said. “It doesn’t look like he’s quite where he needs to be mobility-wise. Little things he can kind of irritate it and still hurt it, which is a little head-scratching since it’s been some time now. Still looking for him to take another step in the right direction.”
Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.