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Kiermaier astonished to be on Rays' playoff roster

Rays manager Joe Maddon bumps fists with outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is starting his major-league career with a tiebreaker and a playoff game.

Associated Press

Rays manager Joe Maddon bumps fists with outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is starting his major-league career with a tiebreaker and a playoff game.

CLEVELAND — Rays officials were gathered in executive vice president Andrew Friedman's suite at the airport hotel Tuesday night discussing options for their 25-man roster for Wednesday's AL wild-card game when they agreed, with little debate, that defensively gifted rookie outfielder Kevin Kiermaier should be on it.

"In talking about it and going through the different variables, we decided okay, we're going to go Kiermaier and we just moved on," Friedman explained Wednesday. "And I said, 'Hold on a minute, we've got to back up. Everybody in here has to appreciate that this is crazy. I know we like crazy, this is who we are. But we can't just gloss over this. This is crazy. It's out there.' "

Even for the group that pitched David Price in the 2008 playoffs and World Series in his first pro season, that started rookie Matt Moore in Game 1 of the 2011 Division Series, that flew rookie Enny Romero in from the Dominican Republic to start Game 155, this was something.

Consider that Kiermaier, 23, already had the thrill of a lifetime when he was surprisingly called up Monday and made a most unexpected major-league debut in the last inning of the Game 163 tiebreaking win at Texas.

And now — for an encore — he was not only on the roster but in centerfield for the last two innings of a playoff game.

"The craziness continues," Kiermaier said, shaking his head in the dugout. "Today I was a little more surprised than what I was the other night to be called up to Texas. Today was crazy.

"My buddy texted me and said some guy on Twitter named Marc Topkin said you got called up, and then like five minutes later Joe (Maddon) calls me and said, 'Hey, you're activated tonight for the 25-man roster.' I'm just like, 'Man, this is such a fun and crazy ride.' The past 72 hours for me have been one of the best stretches of my life.

"Everything I've been saying is cliche because I can't really say it another way than this is just a dream come true, and I just wouldn't want to be any other place right now but right here."

Kiermaier, a 31st-round pick in 2010, thought his biggest accomplishment this season was getting promoted from Double-A Montgomery to Triple-A Durham and helping the Bulls in the International League playoffs.

Wednesday afternoon, he was prepping to play under the bright lights and a large and loud crowd at Progressive Field.

"I would have never thought I'd be here," Kiermaier said.

He wasn't the only one.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

Kiermaier astonished to be on Rays' playoff roster 10/02/13 [Last modified: Thursday, October 3, 2013 12:39am]
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