Make us your home page
Instagram

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 returns to Rays lineup after nearly two months (w/ video)

ST. PETERSBURG — CF Kevin Kiermaier's excitement to be off the disabled list and back in the Rays lineup was obvious from the way he talked in the clubhouse hours before Friday's game against the Orioles, calling it "like another opening day."

Then he showed it, hustling around the bases, scoring after a walk, and the outfield, chasing down six fly balls.

"It definitely feels good to be back here at the Trop playing," he said.

Kiermaier had been sidelined since breaking two bones in his left hand May 21 trying to make a catch, and the team missed him significantly.

"We all know why, what he does for our team, how he fills out our defense and adds that spark offensively when he's on base," manager Kevin Cash said. "We're thrilled to have him back. There have been a lot of devastating injuries, that's right there at the top if not the top one."

Kiermaier doesn't handle idle time well and said he could only do so much rooting for the team from the couch and the dugout. "You've got to be on the field at the end of the day to perform," he said, "and for me, being out there, that's my happy place."

Catching on: Luke Maile not only got called up to the big leagues after boosting his average at Triple-A Durham to .242, but it sounds like he is going to get the chance to be the primary catcher ahead of Curt Casali.

"We know the type of catcher he is," Cash said. "We want to get him in line with our pitchers, kind of game plan with them. He does such a good job of that on his own. We will see him quite a bit out there. Just keep maintaining what he's been doing offensively."

Maile did that Friday, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Happy camper: RHP Kevin Jepsen said he had "quite a few" teams, including some contenders, interested after his release by the Twins, but he felt most comfortable returning to the Rays.

Part had to do with the players, some of whom reached out to him via text messages, encouraging him to come back. And part the coaches and the data they use, which he felt helped him during his 2015 stint.

"They expect me to get back to me, so that's good because that's right in line with what I expect as well," he said.

Jepsen, 31, was available because he struggled with the Twins this season, posting a 2-6 record and 6.16 ERA and .333 average/.978 OPS in 33 games. He said he realized he needed to make some mechanical adjustments and that his last outing with the Twins, on July 2, was the best he felt.

Jepsen worked a 1-2-3 ninth Friday; Cash said they expect more than just solid relief work: "The way he carries himself, he's some veteran leadership in the bullpen and throughout the club. Everybody has so much respect for him."

Pitching in: To make room for Kiermaier and Jepsen, the team optioned RHPs Ryan Garton and Tyler Sturdevant back to Durham. But it kept another rookie reliever, intrigued by RHP Dylan Floro's strike-throwing and ground-ball-inducing sinker.

Trade mission: High-level scouts from the Nationals, Pirates and Red Sox were among those at the Trop with RHP Chris Archer on the mound, and the Rangers had multiple scouts. More are expected tonight (for LHP Matt Moore) and Sunday (RHP Jake Odorizzi). Baseball operations president Matt Silverman said he wouldn't — and won't — categorize the team as sellers in advance of the Aug. 1 deadline. "Whether we are active in the trading market or not is going to be determined by the market, by our conversations, by our record," he said.

Rehab report: Rather than make his third rehab start as scheduled on Sunday, RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) will throw a bullpen session, ostensibly to work on his mechanics. If all goes well, Cobb said he will make his next start Tuesday or Wednesday. "I'm not worried about it, it's just one of those hiccups," he said. … INF/DH Steve Pearce (hamstring) was to start his rehab assignment Friday in Port Charlotte, but the Stone Crabs were rained out. He is targeting a return next week. … RHP Brad Boxberger (oblique) threw another bullpen.

Miscellany: SS Brad Miller reached base four times. ... RHP Alex Colome said he enjoyed the All-Star experience and wasn't disappointed at not pitching, preferring to get the rest.

Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, in his first game back, enjoys seeing his teammates after scoring a run Friday in the second inning.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, in his first game back, enjoys seeing his teammates after scoring a run Friday in the second inning.

Kevin Kiermaier returns to Rays lineup after nearly two months (w/ video) 07/15/16 [Last modified: Saturday, July 16, 2016 12:15am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander

    Bucs

    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  2. Rays journal: Blake Snell continues roll in win over Cubs (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was still a game in the fifth inning when LHP Blake Snell walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a single. One swing by the Cubs' Ian Happ (22 home runs) could put a dent in the Rays' three-run lead.

    Blake Snell allows just two hits in pitching seven scoreless innings.
  3. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.

    Figures.

    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    One success story of this lost season is the emergence of LHP Blake Snell as the frontline starter the Rays projected. After a rough start and two demotions, he has been rolling, Wednesday's solid seven innings making him 4-0, 2.57 in his past eight starts.

  5. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Orioles

    7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM; 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    This is a 2017 photo of Matt Andriese of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)