Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Kevin Kiermaier keeps impressing for Rays

Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) singles in the seventh inning of the Seattle Mariners against the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field on Friday, June 6, 2014.


Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) singles in the seventh inning of the Seattle Mariners against the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field on Friday, June 6, 2014.

ST. PETERSBURG — Optimism and silver linings have been hard to come by for the Rays, who entered Friday with a 10-game losing streak and the worst record in baseball.

One positive has been the emergence of rookie RF Kevin Kiermaier, who extended his hitting streak to five games Friday by stretching a grounder into a double and scoring the game's first run.

"He's probably playing offensively at maybe his highest level," Rays mana­ger Joe Maddon said. "The guy loves to play. You've got to appreciate it as a teammate or a manager or a coach. You can enjoy watching this guy play every day."

Maddon has called the 24-year-old speedster one of the league's top defensive outfielders, but his bat has started to catch up. Since May 18, Kiermaier leads the Rays with three home runs and six extra-base hits. His .379 batting average — albeit in a small sample size of 12 games — was the team's best entering Friday.

He had three hits, including a home run Thursday, at times using unconventional swings.

"It's kind of how I've always been," Kiermaier said. "I might have some unorthodox swings at times, but I can get some hits out of it sometimes. I just try to put the ball in play as much as I can. It might not look pretty sometimes, but it works every now and then."

MEDICAL MATTERS: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (elbow) plans to make his first rehab start today for Class A Charlotte in Tampa. He's scheduled to throw three or four innings and 50-60 pitches. If all goes well, he'd likely make two more rehab starts before rejoining the Rays for the June 27 doubleheader at Baltimore.

C Ryan Hanigan (right hamstring) is set to catch Hellickson and play about six innings. He said the team is expecting him to make two more starts, at designated hitter, before rejoining the Rays on Wednesday, when he is eligible to be activated from the DL.

"Barring any setbacks, I should be fine," Hanigan said.

COBB'S PAUSE: RHP Alex Cobb is approaching today's start with the same mentality he had when he returned from the disabled list last month: Ignore the team's slump, and don't try to win five games in one day.

"You can't really do too much," Cobb said. "You go out there and pitch your game."

Cobb's 3.19 ERA is the best in the Rays' rotation thanks, in part, to a tweaked delivery.

At some point last year — Cobb isn't sure exactly when — he lengthened a pause in his motion to help him balance while his arm catches up to the rest of his body.

His teammates have told him the delay also has the bonus of messing up hitters' timing.

"Maybe it's kind of morphed into a little bit of deception," Cobb said.

ZIMMER TRIBUTE: Maddon honored Don Zimmer, who died Wednesday, by buying about 50 of the Coney Island hot dogs — complete with chili, onions and mustard — that the Rays' senior adviser used to bring.

"I thought it was the right day to bring out the Zim-dog," Maddon said.

MISCELLANY: C Jose Molina's sac fly in the fourth gave him his first RBI of the season and snapped his streak of 100 at-bats without one. … Hanigan and OF David DeJesus participated in a Q&A at the Rays Baseball Foundation Community Fund Grant luncheon, which made donations to 20 charities.

Times staff writer Matt Baker can be reached at or on Twitter at @MBakerTBTimes.

Kevin Kiermaier keeps impressing for Rays 06/06/14 [Last modified: Saturday, June 7, 2014 12:26am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jordan Spieth wins British Open (w/ video)


    SOUTHPORT, England — Someday, perhaps soon, there will be a plaque at Royal Birkdale for Jordan Spieth, much like the one off the 16th hole that celebrates Arnold Palmer and the 6-iron he slashed out of the rough in 1961 to win the British Open and usher in a new era of golf.

    Matt Kuchar plays out of the bunker on the 18th hole and finishes with bogey for 1-under 69. He had a one-shot lead after 13 holes.
  2. Fennelly: Brutal weekend could be start of something worse for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Well, that was lovely.

    Brad Boxberger suffers his second loss in the three-game series, this time by allowing back-to-back homers in the eighth inning when called on to protect a 5-3 lead. “Just bad pitches,” he says.
  3. Wesley Chapel hockey camp impresses youth players, parents

    Lightning Strikes

    WESLEY CHAPEL — As a 17-year-old Triple-A hockey player, MacCallum Brown regularly plays against elite talent. As a Palm Harbor resident, he often has to travel to face that talent.

  4. Rays journal: Rays gamble on Sergio Romo's track record, heart

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Some of RHP Sergio Romo's numbers this season with the Dodgers were the worst of his career, yet the Rays feel he can be a good fit for their bullpen.

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 26:  Sergio Romo #54 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the 9th inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on June 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
  5. Rays claim not to be panicking after third straight brutal loss to Rangers (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — There was no "here we go again" moment in the dugout as Rougned Odor's two-run homer in the eighth inning arced across Tropicana Field and toward the rightfield seats, even though when it landed, the score was tied and another late-inning Rays lead was blown.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria heads back to the dugout after fouling out in the ninth inning with the potential tying run on first.