Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier injures right thumb on hard slide and will miss time for third straight season

CHRIS URSO   |   TimesTampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39), shown here in an earlier game vs. the Red Sox, left Sunday's game against the Phillies after the first inning when he jammed his thumb sliding into second.
CHRIS URSO | TimesTampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39), shown here in an earlier game vs. the Red Sox, left Sunday's game against the Phillies after the first inning when he jammed his thumb sliding into second.
Published April 15 2018
Updated April 15 2018

A hustle base-running play resulted in Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier having to leave Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies after only one inning.

It may be the last one he plays for several weeks.

Kiermaier, who missed about two months last season with a hairline fracture to his right hip, looped a soft single into left field in his first at bat against Phillies right-hander Ben Lively.

When Phillies leftfielder Rhys Hoskins bobbled the ball, Kiermaier hustled into second and beat the throw with a head-first slide. But he appeared to jam his right thumb on the second base bag in the process.

After checking with trainers and manager Kevin Cash, he remained in the game and scored a run when Mallex Smith tripled two batters later. But Kiermaier was replaced in the top of the second inning in centerfield by rookie Johnny Field.

The Rays announced that Kiermaier has a right thumb sprain and is day-to-day. He will undergo an MRI Monday.

"I'm not too excited the potential of it," manager Kevin Cash said. "I don't want to get too far ahead of it, but he's going to be out."

Not surprisingly, Kiermaier was injured by playing his typical hustling – albeit sometimes reckless -brand of of baseball. Kiermaier played 98 games last season due to a hip fracture he received sliding into first base. He played in 105 games in 2016 due to a wrist injury.

"It's one of those plays I was actually just thinking about going to second initially because he kind of getting there a little bit slowly on that blooper hit and I saw him bobble it so I took the base. I thought the opportunity was presented to me. I go in there and I knew it was going to be a close play and just kind of got caught on the ground and the thumb kind of got caught at a weird angle. It was one of those things where I thought I had a chance to over-slide the bag, which I've done a couple times in my career and I was just trying to hold on. I don't know if that's what made my thumb go at the angle it did but I definitely thought I jammed it. I didn't like the way my thumb felt after that as far as how it was looking and how it was moving."

Kiermaier said he tried to squeezed a ball in the dugout and realized he was done.

"It wasn't right. We'll get further tests tomorrow and final word what's going to happen but it's just unfortunate," Kiermaier said. "It's just another freak accident. I can't believe I'm saying this for a third year in a row now. The hardest part about all this is I feel like I let a lot of people down. My teammates, coaches. I harped on it in spring training all year,  I said I just want to stay healthy for my teammates and put my talents on display for a full year. That's in jeopardy right now."

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