Kevin Kiermaier‘s return for the Tampa Bay Rays had been delayed due to back issues. However, the Tampa Bay Rays center fielder is getting closer to his return to the lineup.
The Tampa Bay Rays are coming closer to getting a key piece of their lineup back. Kevin Kiermaier is expected to begin his rehab assignment with the Charlotte Stone Crabs in the next day or so, leading to a potential return to the Rays lineup this weekend.
Right now, the plan is for Kiermaier to get approximately 20 at bats before being activated. In theory, this should determine whether or not his hip, and his back, are healthy enough to return to the lineup. It will also be interesting to watch Kiermaier in the field during his rehab to see if his injuries hinder his defense.
Should he be back to normal, Kiermaier would be an immediate boost to the lineup. He was in the midst of another typically solid year, producing a .258/.329/.408 batting line with seven homers and ten steals. However, it is his defense that makes Kiermaier a star, and a long term building block for the Rays.
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While the Rays are counting on Kiermaier to be a key part of the lineup, his defense is where his true value lies. A two time Gold Glove winner, his impressive range and ability to track down virtually anything make him such a vital part of their success. Given the recent struggles of the offense, Kiermaier’s glove becomes all the more valuable.
And that is why the hip and back issues are such a concern. While he is not expected to have any ill effects, it is still a matter of trust. Will Kiermaier hesitate to make that diving catch, or to run into an outfield wall?
We should have a sense as to where Kiermaier is in the next few days. While attention will be given to his batting line and offense, how he performs defensively will be even more notable. Kiermaier may feel fine physically, but will he trust his hip?
Kevin Kiermaier is coming closer to a return to the Tampa Bay Rays. Hopefully, he remains the same excellent player he has been.