Kevin Kiermaier Has Setback, Pushing Back Return to Rays

By David Hill
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 19: Kevin Kiermaier
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 19: Kevin Kiermaier /

Kevin Kiermaier was expected to return to the Tampa Bay Rays lineup within the next week or so. Instead, his return has been delayed due to severe pain in his back.

Amidst a rough stretch, there was some positive news for the Tampa Bay Rays. Kevin Kiermaier, their all world center fielder, was set to return from his hip injury within the next week or so. He had begun his rehab assignment, working himself into game shape. It was just a matter of days until he returned.

Unfortunately, Kiermaier’s return has been pushed back. He experienced severe back pain yesterday leading to his being shut down once again. Kiermaier will be re-evaluated in a couple of days, at which point, the team hopes he will resume baseball activities.

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Currently, the hope is that this setback will simply keep Kiermaier off the field for another week. As he was expected back sometime around the 8th, mid-August is not that far off. However, given his hip injury back in June, the back problems may well be due to compensating for that previous injury. If that does prove to be the case, his return could be delayed even longer.

When Kiermaier comes back, it is easy to dream of the Rays outfield defense. Adding him to an outfield patrolled by Mallex Smith and Steven Souza, or Peter Bourjos, would give the Rays one of the better outfield defenses in the game. The Rays pitching struggles may well change with an outfield that would be capable of tracking down virtually everything,

In a way, the Rays season may hinge on Kiermaier’s return. While he has been a solid contributor offensively, with a .258/.329/.408 batting line, seven homers, and ten steals, his greatest asset is still that glove. If Kiermaier can still move around the outfield, the Rays, as a whole, could look a lot better when he returns.

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Kevin Kiermaier is dealing with severe back pain, delaying his return to the lineup. Hopefully, this does not push his return too far back.