ST. PETERSBURG — CF Kevin Kiermaier still doesn't know what caused the tightness in his left hip that kept him out of all but four innings during the weekend series with the Rangers.
Could it have been caused by playing on Tropicana Field's unforgiving turf?
"Yes and no," said Kiermaier, who returned to the lineup Monday against the Red Sox.
Kiermaier said he prepares each offseason for the pounding his legs will take on the AstroTurf. He said after playing a career-high 78 games at the Trop last season, he felt well enough to play another two months.
But, Kiermaier added, "The turf, it does do some crazy things to our bodies every now and then. Some days you can feel great and a couple of days later, you don't change anything, and your body feels awful."
Kiermaier said the mental toll of a 162-game season is just as taxing as the physical and can lead to physical issues.
"So there are a lot of things that come to play," he said. "The turf probably has a part to do with what's going on."
Manager Kevin Cash said he and the training staff will keep an eye on Kiermaier, though they have been monitoring things all season.
"He understands how much we value and need him out there," Cash said. "We're excited to have him back, but we're going to listen to what KK has to say, and if he doesn't feel good enough then we'll adjust, but as for now he's good to go."
And Cash hopes Kiermaier stays good to go.
"This isn't a knock to anybody else, but when KK is not in our lineup it seems like it shows up every day," Cash said. "We know we're best when he's out there roaming the outfield and making the plays that he does."
OH WHAT A CATCH: The Rays had a chance to cut the Red Sox's lead to 3-2 in the eighth when RF Steven Souza Jr., with DH Tim Beckham on first base, lined a ball down the leftfield line.
But LF Andrew Benintendi made a running, leaping catch over the small wall to rob Souza of a two-run homer.
"Spending seven years here, I didn't see that catch too many times," former Rays LHP and winning pitcher David Price said. "That doesn't happen a whole lot, so that was huge."
Benintendi, who moved from centerfield at the start of the inning, said he knew he had a chance after getting a good jump on the ball.
"I think that's the best catch I ever made," he said. "I've never really had an opportunity to take one back. I was fortunate that I could."
MAHTOOK STRUGGLES: LF Mikie Mahtook extended his slump to 0-for-32 after going hitless in three at-bats. Luke Scott holds the record for the Rays' longest slump — 0-for-41 in 2012.
"It's just one of those things where you just try to grind out the bad at-bats, you grind out the times you don't feel great and overcome it," Mahtook said.
COBB UPDATE: RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) allowed nine hits and five runs in four innings Monday against Norfolk while pitching for Triple-A Durham. It was his sixth rehab start. He could rejoin the rotation later this week or make one more start for Durham. That would push his return to after the rosters expand Sept. 1.
IN THE COMMUNITY: C Luke Maile is scheduled to visit patients today at Tampa General Hospital. SS Matt Duffy and Mahtook will visit patients Wednesday at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.