2:05pm: Topkin now adds that he hears that Kiermaier’s absence will likely be closer to 12 to 13 weeks than to eight weeks (Twitter link).
11:50am: The Rays announced that Kiermaier has been placed on the 10-day DL and confirmed the ligament tear as well as the requirement for surgery. Right-hander Chih-Wei Hu has been recalled from Triple-A Durham to take Kiermaier’s spot on the active roster for now.
11:24am: Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb when sliding into second base yesterday and will require surgery that could sideline him for the next eight to 12 weeks, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Manager Kevin Cash had already suggested after yesterday’s game that Kiermaier could miss some significant time with the injury. He underwent an MRI this morning that revealed the tear, and a formal announcement is expected from the team later this afternoon, according to Topkin.
Though Kiermaier was off to a dreadful .163/.250/.233 start to his season, the loss of one of the game’s premier defenders is a significant blow to the Rays. Tampa Bay is off to just a 3-12 start to the 2018 season, and Kiermaier’s absence possibly into the month of July won’t do them any favors. This’ll now be three straight seasons in which Kiermaier has missed multiple months due to injury, having previously been shelved by a fractured wrist and a fractured hip.
[Related: Tampa Bay Rays depth chart]
The Rays have a pair of center-field capable outfielders on the active roster already in the form of Mallex Smith and Carlos Gomez. Presumably, one of the two will step into the considerable void left by Kiermaier. The injury will also likely push Denard Span into the outfield with more regularity, and it could clear a spot on the big league roster for recent waiver pickup Jeremy Hazelbaker.
Given the Rays’ miserable start to the 2018 campaign and now the lost of perhaps their best all-around player, trade rumblings surrounding their more established players figure to crop up earlier in the year than usual. Chris Archer and Alex Colome are a perennial fixtures on the rumor mill, though each struggled to a dismal start of his own. Gomez, Wilson Ramos, Adeiny Hechavarria, Sergio Romo and Span are among the other logical trade candidates on the Rays, should the team ultimately show an openness to moving some pieces. For now, of course, the focus for the Rays will remain on rebounding from an ugly start to the season.