Kevin Kiermaier to Miss 2 Months
The Tampa Bay Rays were dealt a huge blow on Friday when it was learned that All-Star outfielder Kevin Kiermaier will miss at least two months. The Gold Glove center fielder left Thursday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox after appearing to injure his hip.
X-rays showed that Kiermaier sustained a fracture to his right hip that will not require surgery. He will need six-to-eight weeks for the fracture to heal before working his way back into baseball shape. The team believes he will be sidelined until some time in August.
Outfielder Mallex Smith has been recalled from Triple-A to take Kiermaier’s spot on the big league roster. Smith was acquired over the offseason in the trade that sent lefty Drew Smyly to the Seattle Mariners.
Smith is an elite fielder and has game-changing speed on the basepaths, but he’s struggled to hit during his brief stints at the Major League level in the past. In 23 at-bats in the big leagues so far this season, Smith is hitting .261/.346/.304. As a rookie with the Atlanta Braves last year, Smith hit .238/.316/.365 with three homers and 16 stolen bases.
Kiermaier has struggled in the field so far this season by his standards, but he’s been serviceable at the plate. He’s hitting .258/.329/.408 in 233 at-bats so far in 2017 with seven homers, 20 runs batted in and 10 steals.
Kiermaier Will be Missed
Tampa signed Kiermaier to a six-year contract guaranteeing more than $53 million that includes a player option during spring training. Kiermaier broke his hand in the middle of last season, and the Rays cratered during his absence. Tampa went just 14-34 in the 48 games he missed last season. They were 48-54 with Kiermaier in the lineup.
The Rays have been one of baseball’s most powerful offenses so far this season, but unfortunately they happen to play in what is likely baseball’s toughest division. Thursday’s win pulled them to 31-31 on the season, but they’re in fourth place behind the Yankees, Red Sox and Orioles.
They will host the Oakland Athletics for a three-game weekend series starting Friday night. Alex Cobb will toe the rubber for Tampa Bay opposite Andrew Triggs for the A’s.
The Rays are expected to use a rotation of Smith, Colby Rasmus, Steven Souza Jr .and Peter Bourjos in center field while Kiermaier is on the shelf.
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