Rays News

Tampa Bay Rays: Kevin Kiermaier, Rickie Weeks Jr. Latest to Join the DL

By Althea Pashman
May 31, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) watches his game tying home run in the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
May 31, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) watches his game tying home run in the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Tampa Bay Rays will be without Kevin Kiermaier and Rickie Weeks Jr. as injuries land them on the DL, plus shortstop Matt Duffy was moved to the 60-day DL.

For every step that the Tampa Bay Rays take forward with players coming off the disabled list, they seem to take two steps backwards. The latest injuries land Kevin Kiermaier and Rickie Weeks Jr. on the 10-day DL and a move to the 60-day DL for Matt Duffy.

Just when things were beginning to turn around for Kevin Kiermaier, an awkward slide into first base against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday night netted two results on one play. The first of course was Kiermaier getting called out, so that he would not to barrel into White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu and the second resulted Kiermaier sustaining a hairline fracture of the right hip.

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“The thing about it is, when you’re running down to first base, I can’t run through the bag, or else I’m going to collide with Jose Abreu, who’s a big dude,” Kiermaier said of sliding into first after Thursday’s game. “I made the decision to try to slide right there.”

It’s a bad break for the Rays and of course for Kiermaier who started to heat up at the plate, in May when he hit .270/347/.468 with six home runs and 14 RBIs hitting, carrying that into this month hitting .364/.364/.591.

The Rays mean while will be with out his services for a minimum of two months (6-8 weeks) which is what the Rays are stating for his healing timetable, plus any additional time needed for getting back into playing shape.

The irony of this injury is that it is one-year and two weeks later from when his fractured two bones in his wrist, against the Tigers and missed 10 weeks. As a side note, at the time of this injury (May 21, 2016) the Rays were 20-20, when he returned on July 15 they were 34-55 – going a miserable 14-35 in his absence.

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Fast forward to today, as the Rays prepare for their game against the Oakland A’s, they are 31-31, in fourth place, just 5.5 games back of the division leading Yankees and only 2 games back in the Wild Card.

Replacing Kiermaier on the roster and as the Rays primary center-fielder will be Mallex Smith who returns from Durham where he was hitting .311/.345/.477 with three home runs, eight RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 30 games.

With the extra depth available in the outfield, Colby Rasmus, Peter Bourjos and Steven Souza Jr. could also see time in center.

Smith began the season with the Rays, appearing in eight games before sustaining a hamstring injury and being placed on the 10-day DL. At the time of his injury, Smith was batting .273 with three stolen bases in 22 at-bats. Smith was optioned to Durham after his DL stint as Colby Rasmus was activated. Overall on the season with the Rays, Smith is batting .261/.346/.304 in 23 at-bats.

Utility man Rickie Weeks Jr. was also placed on the 10-day DL with a right shoulder impingement. Weeks earlier this season Weeks was in a collision with Bret Gardner and manager Kevin Cash said that  Weeks has not been the same since then.

Weeks’ roster spot will be taken by infielder Taylor Featherston, who the Rays acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies for cash considerations. To accommodate him on the 40-man roster, the Rays moved shortstop Matt Duffy to the 60-day DL.

Featherston has spent times in the majors with the Angels, who selected him in the Rule 5 Draft from the Rockies in 2015 and the Phillies. The versatile infielder can play around the diamond and left field.  Currently playing for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate Lehigh Valley, Featherston was hitting .270/.370/.394 with three homers, 20 RBIs and six stolen bases in 137 at-bats. Career wise in the majors, his line is .156/.207/.233.

"“We’ve got to try to move forward,” Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said. “Got to try and not dwell on it too long.”"

Next: Lucius Fox running up Tampa Bay Rays prospect rankings

Losing Kiermaier is a tremendous blow, but the Rays are in better shape this time around than they were last year and Kiermaier’s eight to ten weeks away can’t come soon enough.

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