MIAMI — The Rays got the news they expected Monday on CF Kevin Kiermaier, that he had two slightly displaced metacarpal fractures in his left hand that will require surgery today and keep him sidelined 8-10 weeks.
But while there was relief that the evaluation by hand specialist Dr. Doug Carlan didn't show more extensive damage or include the wrist, there was also the sobering reality they will be without one of their most dynamic players into August.
"It's a giant void for us to fill," baseball operations president Matt Silverman said. "He's a spark plug, and someone who impacts the game in so many different ways. We're wishing him a very speedy recovery so he can get back and help us during the stretch run."
The surgery will be performed by Carlan, with screws inserted into Kiermaier's hand. Emotional after the injury occurred Saturday when he attempted a diving catch, Kiermaier said via text message Monday that he was now trying to look forward:
"Had a tough time accepting the fact the other day that i knew i was gonna be out for a long time but it was the heat of the moment type of thing and that's why i was emotional and now my mind is a little more at ease knowing i will be back eventually.. Just wanna get through surgery and start the healing process asap''
Triple-A callup Mikie Mahtook started in centerfield Monday and will have the chance to earn a hefty share of the playing time, along with Desmond Jennings. Brandon Guyer is also in the mix as manager Kevin Cash said they need to rotate a bit as they play 16 days straight and 28 games in the next 30.
"We have a number of outfielders who are capable of playing centerfield and expect one or more to rise to the occasion and fill in," Silverman said. "This club always takes the next man up approach, and we're going to get to see a couple guys demonstrate why they deserve to be here."
Mahtook, who impressed the Rays with a sturdy September, hitting .353 with six homers and a 1.103 OPS, said the circumstances were unfortunate but it was an opportunity nonetheless to show what he can do.
"I don't think by any means it was a fluke," Mahtook said. "I wasn't getting a lot of jam shots, I wasn't getting a lot of infield singles. Balls were going over the fence, balls were driven into gaps. I don't think you can consider that a fluke thing. It was one of those things where I got up and I got hot and I felt really good. I don't see any reason why that would change.
"I have confidence in myself, and I feel like I'm going to come out and play exactly the way I played in September."
TYLER TOUCHED: New RHP Tyler Sturdevant got emotional Monday in recounting his feelings after getting word Sunday of his promotion to the majors after seven-plus seasons in the minors.
"It's tough to talk about it," he said. "I've been waiting for this for a long time."
Sturdevant, 30, was called up to replace RHP Steve Geltz, demoted after allowing his seventh homer in 161/3 innings. He spent seven years in the Indians organization, signed with the Rays as a minor-league free agent after serving a 50-game PEDs suspension (for amphetamines) and was 1-0, 1.56 with 21 strikeouts in 171/3 innings at Triple-A Durham, using primarily a 93-95 mph fastball and a cutter.
Sturdevant said when Bulls manager Jared Sandberg told him of his promotion Sunday after he was summoned from the bullpen just before the game, he wasn't sure how to react. "I was taken a little off guard," he said. "So I gave him a solid blank stare for a good 10-15 seconds. There was an awkward silence."
Sturdevant got busy calling his family, and his wife, Genna, made the trip from Colorado to see him for the first time in a major-league uniform, No. 50.
FAMILY AFFAIR: Growing up in the Palm Beach area, Taylor Motter used to go to a lot of Marlins games at their old stadium, citing Jeff Conine, Bobby Bonilla and Edgar Renteria as his favorites on the 1997 championship team.
Now playing for the Rays, Motter had more than a dozen relatives and friends coming to see him play Monday at Marlins Park. "It's a blast," he said. "It's exciting to see them all."
Motter put on a show for his fans, with a bases-loaded walk, a home run and a go-ahead RBI double.
REHAB REPORT: RHP Brad Boxberger (core muscle repair surgery) was sharp in Sunday's back end of consecutive appearances for Triple-A Durham but will make at least one more rehab outing, with date and site TBA.
MISCELLANY: There is no Rays TV today, but the Marlins broadcast can be seen on Fox Sports Florida and on MLB Network. … LHP Matt Moore got his first career hit with a fourth-inning single, but his joy was short-lived as he was doubled off first on a line drive. … Guyer homered as part of his 11th multihit game.