It has seemed more and more likely in the past couple days, but Tampa Bay Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan has now officially been placed on the 15-day disabled list after re-aggravating a lingering hamstring injury in Monday’s loss against the Toronto Blue Jays. In his place, outfielder Kevin Kiermaier has been called up from Triple-A Durham.
Hanigan has been bothered with this hamstring injury for almost two weeks now. He missed three games on the Rays’ recent road trip to the West Coast in attempts to rest avoid a DL trip, but after worsening the injury on Monday the Rays decided that just a couple days rest would be insufficient. With Hanigan out, Jose Molina and recently called up Ali Solis will handle the Rays catching duties. Neither are good with the bat (Molina is hitting just .127 this year and Solis was hitting .186 in Triple-A before his call-up). However, both are stellar defensively and should do fine filling in while Hanigan is out. Expect Molina to catch more games than Solis, but not by too many. The Rays also could have called up prospect Curt Casali, who is more talented than Solis. But, he has little experience above Double-A, and he would also have to have been added to the 40-man roster and thus would have burned an option by being sent back down later in the season.
This will be Kiermaier’s third stint with the Rays this year. He too has been hobbled lately thanks to a minor knee injury, but after playing last night in Triple-A he apparently is healthy. With the Rays this year he is 3-12 with a homer and a pair of RBIs in 5 games played. On top of that, he has put up a .305/.362/.461 line in 34 games with Durham. He is widely considered one of the best defensive outfielders in the minors, and he showcased that defense making an acrobatic catch and showcasing a strong arm against the Los Angeles Angels a couple of weeks ago. Kiermaier should see a fair share of starts in center, especially against right-handed pitching. When he doesn’t start, he will also appear as a late-innings defensive replacement and a pinch-runner.
It is unfortunate that Ryan Hanigan has to spend time on the DL, but at least now he can get rest and make sure that he stays healthy for the long-run. Molina and Solis aren’t going to impress in his stead, but both play solid defense and should do fine. Hanigan’s injury also allows the Rays to bring up Kiermaier- the type of guy who will help them win on any given night. It isn’t ideal, but the Rays should get by fine the two or three weeks that Hanigan is on the shelf.