Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier will require surgery to repair a pair of fractures in his left hand and will miss the next eight to 10 weeks of action as a result, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (links to Twitter). Kiermaier was reported to have suffered a pair of fractures this past weekend and has already been placed on the disabled list, with Mikie Mahtook being recalled in his place, but the length of his required absence remained unknown to this point.
The 26-year-old Kiermaier suffered the injury on Saturday this week in an attempt to make a diving catch on a James McCann fly to shallow center and immediately came off the field before trainers could even reach him on the outfield grass. He’s in the midst of a solid season for Tampa Bay, hitting .236/.307/.447 with strong contributions in defense and baserunning. Kiermaier has quickly emerged as one of baseball’s premier defenders, winning a Gold Glove in a 2015 season that saw him post marks of +42 and +40.7 in Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150, respectively. In addition to his excellent range, Kiermaier racked up 15 outfield assists in 2015, tying him for third place among all Major League outfielders.
With Kiermaier sidelined for upwards of two months, the Rays will have some options to mix and match in center field. Mahtook, a former first-round pick, has plenty of experience in center field, and while he doesn’t come with Kiermaier’s defensive prowess (few do), he’s batting .333/.416/.487 at Triple-A this season and slashed .295/.351/.619 in his MLB debut last season (115 plate appearances). The Rays also have Desmond Jennings as an experienced center field option, though Jennings’ star has dimmed due to injuries and underperformance at the plate in recent seasons, and he’s played primarily left field since 2014. Brandon Guyer, too, has some limited experience in center field and could get a look there, as does utilityman Brad Miller.