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ST. PETERSBURG â Kevin Kiermaier felt pretty good by the time he got to Tropicana Field on Tuesday afternoon, concern alleviated about a serious injury from the 95 mph fastball which hit his right ankle on Monday.
Rest and ice helped, as did his own unofficial morning therapy session at his Tampa home, assisted by his 21-month-old son.
âAfter moving around on it and kind of playing with my little wild child, Karter, that helped,â Kiermaier said. âIt really did.â
Enough, he said before Tuesdayâs game against the Orioles, that while not in the lineup he would be able to help off the bench in any role.
âI feel a lot better. Iâll be available for whatever they ask of me,â he said. âThatâs all I can ask for, so Iâm happy with it.â
Which is to say he felt a lot better than when he had a similar incident in September 2018, when Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka ended Kiermaierâs season five days early.
âIâm sure you guys have heard my name and some injuries in the same sentences before,â said Kiermaier, who has missed time in each of the last four seasons.
âTanaka actually hit me with a 81 mph slider, more toward like the middle of my foot, where there are much smaller bones, and one of those got broke, and I was in a boot for two weeks heading into that offseason. So that that definitely creeped in my mind.â
As he did after that incident, Kiermaier went back out to play the field Monday after being hit. But as the ankle started to feel worse, and tight, he decided he was better off coming out rather than risk further damage. A negative X-ray provided further relief.
He said heâd like, as usual, to be a little more consistent offensively, riding a recent hot streak to improve his average to .231 with no homers, 10 RBIs, five steals and a .646 OPS, including two walkoff hits. âJust battling consistency,â he said. âThatâs kind of been the focal point of my career, and Iâve had some ups and downs this season.â
The three-time Gold Glover winnerâs centerfield defense could be described similarly, as he ranks among the league leaders in outfield assists and the defensive runs-saved metric. But he has made some notable misplays.
âIâve been happy with how I played out there, but thereâs, you know, that play in Buffalo last week (against the Blue Jays) where I should have robbed a very easy homer that I didnât, and the same thing happened in Baltimore,â he said. âAnd another misplayed ball in Atlanta, going back on a ball that really upset me. Those three plays are the ones that stick out for me personally.
âYou know I donât forget those, and those motivate me to be better. Just kind of fluky things, to be honest. I know I could make those plays in my sleep. But I didnât do it when it happened in crunch time, so who cares what I have to say about that.
âIâm still very confident out there. You guys know how I feel about how I patrol centerfield out there.â
Starter Charlie Morton (shoulder inflammation) moved a step closer to returning by throwing a 25-pitch bullpen session Tuesday that he said went well. The right-hander will need at least one more session, either in the bullpen or a live batting practice, though manager Kevin Cash said the progress was âencouraging.â Tuesday was Mortonâs 16th day on the injured list; if he misses 25 or more, his 2021 team option is reduced from $15 million to $10 million.
Starter Yonny Chirinos had Tommy John elbow surgery Tuesday by Dr. James Andrews; the Rays said all went as expected. Chirinos likely will be out until 2022. â¦ Cash said they remain optimistic that relievers Chaz Roe (elbow soreness) and Nick Anderson (forearm inflammation) will be ready to be reinstated from the injured list when they are eligible Sunday or shortly after. â¦ Cash said before the game they had âno ideaâ who would pitch Wednesday, with plans for a bullpen day based on availability. Ryan Yarbrough is getting an extra day, coming off Fridayâs 97-pitch outing.
Second-inning homers by Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot was the fourth time this season the team has had back-to-back shots. â¦ Lefty reliever Sean Gilmartin cleared waivers and was outrighted to the Port Charlotte camp for the second time. … After Cash noted the need for better and more consistent defensive play, there was a pregame session of live infield practice, then work on bunt plays with pitchers taking turns on the mound. â¦ The Rays went into play Tuesday leading the American League with 157 runs.
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