Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier was hit on the foot by a pitch tonight and later diagnosed with a hairline fracture, per a team announcement. Kiermaier originally stayed in the game after being plunked, but with only a handful of games remaining, it seems likely that he’ll get an early start on his offseason. The 28-year-old already missed more than two months earlier this season with a torn ligament in his thumb and has averaged just 97 games per season across the past three years due to injury. His 2016 season was shortened by a pair of fractures in his hand sustained while diving for a ball in the outfield, while his 2017 season was truncated by a fractured hip incurred while sliding. Kiermaier is one of the game’s premier defenders and an outstanding baserunner, but tonight’s news won’t do anything to quell the “injury-prone” label that has been attached to him in recent years. He’s set to earn $8MM in 2019, $10MM in 2020, $11.5MM in 2021 and $12MM in 2022 as part of the six-year, $53.5MM extension he signed in 2017.
More from the division…
- Yankees skipper Aaron Boone acknowledged tonight that Gary Sanchez’s ongoing troubles with passed balls are a “concern” but left no doubt that Sanchez is expected to be the starter for the team in the postseason (Twitter link via the YES Network’s Jack Curry). Sanchez, 25, has an MLB-worst 17 passed balls this season despite catching just 631 innings heading into tonight’s game. The issue is hardly unique to 2018, either, as he led the league with 16 passed balls last year (in 881 innings). He’s also taken a step back in nearly all facets with his bat in 2018, hitting .181/.281/.393 through 365 PAs. Sanchez is still among baseball’s most powerful catchers and, to his credit, has improved his walk rate to a robust 11.8 percent this season.
- Sticking with the Yankees, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com writes that shortstop Didi Gregorius was cleared to resume baseball activities on Wednesday. Gregorius, who is dealing with a cartilage injury in his right wrist, is optimisitc about returning before the end of the regular season. Even if he doesn’t return before season’s end, Boone said that wouldn’t rule out a possible appearance in the AL Wild Card Game, though the manager generally spoke with caution rather than putting down a definitive timetable on Gregorius’ return.
- Right-hander Joe Biagini has bounced between the bullpen and rotation since being selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Blue Jays prior to the 2016 season, but he tells Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling that he’s now focused on a relief role moving forward. “I’m looking forward to having one role for the whole season to see if that helps,” said Biagini. The struggles to which Biagini alludes there have been pronounced; the righty pitched to a brilliant 3.06 ERA with strong peripherals as a rookie in 2016 while working exclusively as a reliever. He’s bounced between the ’pen and the rotation in the two seasons since, however, and been tattooed for a 5.51 ERA in 189 1/3 innings. As Zwelling notes, the Jays will be on the hunt for both rotation and relief help this offseason, so knowing where Biagini will fit into the equation should help when plotting their offseason trajectory.